03 Trusts and Funds

Money from charitable trusts is often available particularly for voluntary groups and organisations wishing to work on community projects.  Many large companies create trusts which are often most active in the region in which their head office or manufacturing base is located.

Different trusts have varying and often very precise rules of eligibility: many will not consider your application unless you are a registered charity and an even greater number won’t make grants to individuals.  Saffron Screen in Saffron Walden, Essex secured additional funding and grants from East of England Development Agency, Essex County Council, Saffron Walden Town Council, Awards for All and Screen East after registering themselves as a charity.

As with sponsorship you cannot necessarily expect a quick turnaround on your trust or fund application – some trusts may hold their meetings as little as once or twice a year.

Sometimes it can be challenging to get trusts to commit funds until work has started and they are suitably assured that you can actually finish the project.  If you wish to pursue this source of funding, a number of useful publications exist, in particular the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts and Funding Digest, a monthly publication aimed primarily at voluntary organisations.  Both are often available in public libraries.

“Trusts were really important for our income plans, and we found that national trusts needed to know more about us in a wider context. Messages of support from key Birmingham-linked opinion formers… proved very influential. In total, trusts gave nearly £2m to mac, with many of them continuing to support us with projects now…” said Sarah Gee who worked on the fundraising campaign mac birmingham.

When searching for sources of funding, public funding from local authorities, further education institutions, the Private Finance InitiativeArts Councils and Heritage Lottery Funds might all be worth investigating. When you are approaching any publicly funded body for support it is worth remembering that you will need to prepare your case for funding in just as much detail as you would for a private sponsor. Sometimes there is an assumed leniency by organisations that apply for public funding. If anything, these bodies are more stringent in their monitoring, as they have to be publicly accountable for any monies spent and often have to produce performance analyses of their funded clients.

In certain cases, capital monies for building projects may be available from Arts Council England Grants for the arts.  Before submitting your application, there is a requirement to contact the Grants for the arts team who will make an initial assessment of the eligibility of the proposed project.  Picturehouse, for example were very successful in the late 1990s in securing Arts Council England Lottery funds for investment in a number of buildings for new build cinemas or redevelopments.

The Heritage Lottery Fund as far as cinemas are concerned, focuses on safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of buildings with distinct architectural merit, objects and the environment if they are considered important to the character of identity of the UK, and project work which supports the appreciation and enjoyment of heritage now and for future generations.  Projects “must demonstrate that the level of public benefit provided clearly outweighs any incidental private gain.

The European Regional Development Fund  (ERDF) and INTERREG are both structural funds that work towards the goal of achieving economic and social cohesion in the European Union.  ERDF money is allocated over Objective 1 and 2 areas in the UK.  INTERREG money is used for border areas.  European funding is a very complex area but there are precedents for funding cinema projects from this source mainly as part of regional consortia bids led by local authorities and other significant agencies.  There’s also Europa Cinemas who provide financial support  to cinemas that are committed to showing a percentage of European non-national films as part of their cinema programme on an annual basis.

Local authorities in the UK contribute substantially more funding for the arts than any other agency.  The funding sources and budgets vary significantly from one council to the next and in  most authorities arts budgets have been cut significantly over recent years.  However, with cinema it is possible to make a strong case that a cinema is an important and wanted facility which makes a significant economic and social contribution to the life of the community.  The names of departments you will need to contact also vary but funding is often accessed via Recreation and Arts, Tourism and Leisure or Economic Development departments.  Support can either be available in the form of grants, or in kind, such as access to free training or use of council facilities. Some central Government funding for regeneration is also routed through local authorities.

The small rural 100-seat cinema, The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Scotland employed a variety of fundraising strategies to support its £1.8 million build.  At the very start of their funding journey a comprehensive feasibility study opened up funding from the Big Lottery Investing in Ideas which supported obtaining planning permission and the development of a business plan.  Setting up a Friends membership, as is the case with many other cinemas, continues to provide ongoing financial support as well as a pool of volunteers to assist in a variety of ways.  A successful application to the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund which funds projects that support the regeneration of small rural towns in Scotland added a further £325,000.   Registering as a company limited by guarantee and a charity opened up further funding streams – the Scottish Rural Development Programme awarded them £658,000 and they secured match funding from the Big Lottery Fund.  Good communication was, as with every good fundraising campaign, at the heart of their strategy – this included regular contact with other community organisations and councils in the local area, contact with the local community through street surveys, community needs assessments and a presence at local community events where they sold souvenir items to raise funds and awareness. Alan Cumming became their Patron – a high profile patron can be gold dust to a fundraising campaign.

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