I am so pleased to share that I am working with the Galway Arts Festival, Indianapolis based but as a part-time resident of Ireland. I head across the pond this week, and am excited to begin the project, a professional opportunity of staggering potential.
The Festival is an extraordinary international happening every July, a combination of world-class theatre, music, dance, visual art, comedy and street performance. The organization is in the midst of rapid growth from a regional event to an international destination and they partner with producing theatres around the world on year round programming and outreach with ambitious plans for growth in the years ahead.
They do just the sort of fundraising I most enjoy – entrepreneurial, forward looking and in collaboration with like-minded partners. And the Festival itself is everything I most enjoy about art—fun, dramatic, beautiful, ambitious, challenging. They even have a tent for rock and roll.
Galway itself is a lovely city on Ireland’s west coast, the farthest outpost in Europe before the Atlantic and the distant shores of America. It reminds me of my own adopted hometown of Bloomington, Indiana—a college city with great art, natural beauty and in a somewhat remote locale.
I have been intrigued by the notion of international fundraising for many years now. I served for some years as CDO of a university art museum in Bloomington, and had notions of arranging a trade with a similar British museum of higher education, where the fundraiser in charge and I could swap jobs for a year. Nothing ever came from this idea beyond the urge to fundraise abroad and so here we are, months away from my 40th birthday.
The key question to answer is a simple one—Can the basics of effective fundraising be transferred to a different culture? The Irish are a generous people who rise to assist others, but the philanthropic support of the Arts is a new idea, and one that will take some time to develop. My premise is that we cannot attract investment by talking about what we don’t have, what is lacking due to lowered government support. Instead we have to showcase the philanthropic impact of our efforts and invite investment so that we could serve more, do more, be more.
I’ll be blogging about the experience and what I learn as we proceed. The world is getting smaller and our vital work as fundraisers is more vital than ever, at home and abroad.
Onward to Ireland!