Shopfront Arts Co-op funds major renovation through fundraising

Return of Kings, ArtsLab Uncanned (2019), Shopfront Arts Co-Op. Photo by Tim da-Rin.

Return of Kings, ArtsLab Uncanned (2019), Shopfront Arts Co-Op. Photo by Tim da-Rin.

Shopfront Arts Co-Op’s $2 million renovation heads toward completion in April 2020. We spoke to its CEO Daniel Potter to learn how they diversified their income stream to fund the new development.

Shopfront has been committed to fundraising for this renovation for years. What’s your advice to arts and cultural organisations or artists wanting to diversify their income streams?

As arts and cultural organisations, we need to be more confident in the value of our work, and the value we add to society. To become “investment-ready”, it is important to invest time and energy into quantifying the value of your impact.

You need to be prepared for really hard work, and also commit to the project. We started looking at support for this project in 2015. At the beginning of 2019 we were finally close enough to press go on its construction.

How did Shopfront’s collaboration with Sefa come about? How have they assisted you?

A board member recommended that we contact Sefa, who came onboard when we began the process in 2015. We leveraged their financial support through a social enterprise loan to obtain Federal Government matched funding. Sefa then introduced us to the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) who brought in a key missing piece of support.

Sefa stuck it out with the project for four years before we were ready to press go. They tested our assumptions and helped us to develop a really sound financial strategy. It was excellent to have an outside eye over the deal and strategy – someone to push us to go over and over it and make sure it was watertight. It really felt like a wonderful, warm partnership between Sefa, VFFF and Shopfront, like we all had skin-in-the-game.

What will the Sefa loan enable Shopfront to achieve?

The Sefa loan, as part of the larger funding mix (including donations, foundations, Federal and State Government support), has allowed Shopfront to build a new multi-arts centre in the St George region. This space will include opportunities for co-location of six other arts organisations, two new studio spaces, a theatre upgrade, visual arts wet room, small construction workshop, recording studio and an exhibition space.

The resident organisations will share resources to keep their overheads down and will pay low, heavily-subsidised rent to support the Sefa loan repayments.

The goal is that within seven years, the loan will be repaid. The increased income from venue hire and tenancy will support some of our programs with young and early-career artists, further reducing our reliance on the Government cyclical funding model.

What other activities did you undertake to help you meet your fundraising target?

We met with members of the Shopfront community and the wider St George/Southern Sydney community to get a sense of what they actually wanted from our space.

We worked with this same community to form a fundraising subcommittee of our Board – who volunteered their time and committed to staying on the committee until they had raised a set amount of money.

We were very fortunate to be selected for Creative Partnerships Plus 1, which matched the first $50,000 of public support. This was coupled with a matched component of Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation funding. This meant that every dollar contributed by a member of our community activated $4 towards our goal.

This was a really fun campaign. My highlight was a large, old-school fundraising thermometer on our site, which had to be painted every week to show our fundraising progress.

We spent a lot of time talking to foundations and key supporters about the importance of the project and the impact we expect it will have. While this didn’t translate to financial support in every instance, we were given heaps of good free advice which was extremely helpful.

Of course, a huge amount of time went in to grant writing as well.

Shopfront Arts Co-Op

Shopfront is youth-led arts co-operative where young people come together and express themselves through learning, sharing and bringing their imaginations to life. Through Shopfront, they gain invaluable skills in artistic leadership and community building, shaping and becoming the next generation of creative content makers and community leaders.

Learn more about Shopfront Arts Co-Op.

Creating New Income Toolkit

To help your organisation and/or creative practice become financially sustainable, Create NSW has developed a set of guides to support you to grow and develop income streams from sources such as philanthropy, sponsorship, crowdfunding and new products. The Toolkit is tailored to creative practitioners and small to medium organisations.

Learn more about diversifying your income stream through Create NSW’s Creating New Income Toolkit.

Image: Return of Kings, ArtsLab Uncanned (2019), Shopfront Arts Co-Op. Photo by Tim da-Rin.