Meet Marie-Louise Carroll, our State Manager in NSW and ACT
With a background in program and event marketing and management, Marie-Louise brings extensive experience in in business development, communications, stakeholder management and strategic partnerships.
As State Manager, what is your key role?
My main role is coaching and mentoring artists and arts and cultural organisations to help them achieve their development goals. I work closely with them to provide tailored advice and strategies to access private sector funding as well as help them gain a better understanding of what motivates business and philanthropists to commit their support.
I also work with boards to inspire them to get involved in the development journey because we know that success happens when there is strong leadership at the board level.
And I connect business professionals with arts and cultural boards – it’s very rewarding to match business skills, expertise, networks and passion with the right organisation.
Can you give us a bit of background on your pre-Creative Partnerships life and some career highlights?
I worked as State Director for the Australia Business Arts Foundation (or AbaF) in NSW, helping to connect the arts with business and philanthropists. Prior to that I spent three years as National Relationship Manager for a Foundation, managing a wide range of partner and philanthropic relationships.
The first part of my career was spent as a solicitor, working in the media sector in legal and business affairs in Australia and the United Kingdom. I also spent three years as Senior Classifier managing the Classification Board, an independent statutory body that classifies films, computer games, certain publications and online content on application. Even now when I watch a DVD or go to the cinema a part of my brain is thinking “Moderate Violence, Low Level Coarse Language” etc!
Career highlights would include successfully pitching Surf Life Saving as beneficiary to the G’day USA program in New York and managing its participation during a freezing NYC winter; contributing to the International Classification Conference in Sydney; negotiating several landmark interactive broadcast deals for Two Way TV in the UK; and establishing AbaF’s first NSW regional tour in my year of joining. It has been a fascinating, non-linear career path and all my roles have contributed to the advice I am able to provide to my clients today.
What do you think are the key opportunities and challenges that are facing arts organisations in your State?
NSW and the ACT are different markets with different forces at play. However a key opportunity for both is the undeniable growth of philanthropy in Australia. As the sector is strong and growing, there has never been a better time to start cultivating these sorts of relationships. And it’s all about the quality of the relationships that are built. Key to the future success of arts organisations is building new relationships with the private sector based on shared values and mutual goals with measurable results.
Technology is transforming the way Australians both engage with and support the arts and will continue to do so – this is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity for arts and cultural organisations.
The ongoing challenge for many of my clients in the SME sector is the age-old lack of resources to achieve their goals. The opportunity here is for resource-sharing (such as sharing back-end administration) to avoid duplication and to maximise effectiveness.
As a State Manager you provide on the ground support to arts organisations via the coaching and mentoring program. What are the three most common questions you get asked?
Who is most likely to support my project?
How do I approach a potential donor/corporate partner?
How do I get the most out of my Board?
What is the greatest outcome that you have had from delivering this program and what are you most proud of?
As well as dealing with external issues, many of the clients I meet with are also facing internal challenges and use me as a confidential sounding board and source of advice. I think one of the greatest outcomes is turning a client’s attitude around from feeling negative to feeling like they have a sensible, achievable plan and some positive strategies to put into action.
It’s also incredibly rewarding to help artists and organisations “tell their story” in a compelling way to a wider audience.
From your experience, what are three key points that lead to a successful partnership with a corporate sponsor?
Strong alignment of values – there must be a good fit between an arts organisation and a business for a partnership to work.
Mutual listening and respect with regular reassessment- accountability needs to be built into the relationship.
As well as achieving respective goals the best partnerships also incorporate genuine enjoyment so that it’s fun for everyone involved.
What is the best part of your job? And the worst part of your job?
The best part: the great art and cultural projects I get to see and hear about and meeting such an array of inspiring, committed people.
The worst part: finding enough hours in the day, followed by travelling in those tiny planes to Canberra, especially when it’s bad weather!