The Drum is an established black-led arts centre in Birmingham keen to revamp it’s existing building in order to create a great visitor experience – not an easy thing to do in an age of Austerity when the main regular funders, the City Council and Arts Council England, are themselves under pressure to reduce their expenditure budgets. Being positive and proactive, the Board decided that a new Capital Investment Prospectus was needed to bolster The Drum’s marketing and fundraising strategy.
The Cover had to be attractive, light, subtle, colourful and inviting. Busy people don’t have much time and they want visual information to be enticing, engaging, and to the point.
The Project Overview had to be visually clean and provide just enough detail for a quick ‘in a nutshell’ read. We thought this would work best if it came from the Chairman of the Board.
Funders want to know about the organisation and its governance – who are the people, the Directors and the staff? Who will we be funding? and do they have the experience and skills to minimise risk and deliver?
Our next challenge was to describe the project, what did we want to do and why? In the absence of any artist impressions, we had to use the graphics and images at our disposal.
Having described the project, the next challenge was to make the case for why the project was needed.
Need is closely linked to Location, The Drum is located in an area of multiple deprivation, both at ward and at constituency level, it was important to spell this out.
So, given the need and the location, ‘in a nutshell’ what exactly does The Drum already do in the community? Does it have a track record of achievement and making a difference?
The case was building up to the ‘ask’, when is the building work going to take place? How much will it cost? Who will be asked to fund it?
Having clarified that £2.8 m would be requested from Arts Council England, £0.9m from the Council, £0.8m from VAT, and £0.4m by The Drum, the next task was to highlight and reinforce The Drum’s programme – after all the new building work is a means to an end, audiences come to enjoy the arts and cultural product, and The Drum has a history of delivering great content.
And finally, the ‘ask’ from the community
With every great story there is an ending, and every prospectus has a back cover.
We learned some important lessons:
Keeping everyone involved in the whole process – Board members and staff – is desirable but very difficult, there comes a point where a small group has to sign off the final pre-print.
It is vital that organisations maintain and catalogue their image bank, and that these images are very high resolution. A great photographer can capture the amazing images because every picture tells a story, and graphic designers are often looking for a part of an image in order to create a canvas for their messages.
The Client’s expectations grew as the work developed and what started out as a Capital Investment Prospectus for a few key stakeholders, was in danger of becoming a document for many audiences with the risk of it losing focus and power.