ArtsForward - Developing Magpie Dance's income streams

We caught up with ArtsForward Pilot Cultural Participant Magpie Dance to discuss their experience so far

Who are Magpie Dance?
Our mission is ‘to unlock individual potential and ability through dance and to be at the forefront of dance for people with learning disabilities’.  We have a small and very efficient team with 2 full time and 1 part time member of staff, and we work with a number of freelancers.  We are kept very busy running 10 classes a week, alongside periods of intense show touring.   The team are all very driven and passionate about making a difference to our participants and audience.

Over our 30 year history we have never received any core funding and we are now focusing our resources on increasing our earned income potential.  We were very proud in 2015 to be recognised as a business by our local community of Bromley, winning the Bromley Business of the Year Awards.  We won 4 awards and were presented with the overall winner, competing against 170 small businesses.

How did you hear about ArtsForward?
We were approached and encouraged to apply by the Arts & Culture at Business in the Community team as part of the pilot, we felt it was a great opportunity that supported our aims to grow income.

What business support did you apply to ArtsForward for?
Our ArtsForward project is about developing our training offer for the commercial sector.  In the long term we aim for the outcome of the ArtsForward intervention to change our funding model, away from trusts and foundations, focusing on earned income.  At the same time as the ArtsForward project starting we were successful in gaining funding from a local sustainability fund.  As a result of receiving the money we were able to appoint a Business Development Consultant on a freelance, short-term contract.   This person has also been a key part in our ArtsForward work, meeting regularly with our ArtsForward business mentor along with Magpie.

How did you find the ArtsForward process?
We found it very straightforward and we are looking forward to meeting with other participants and sharing stories and learning.

What is your experience of measuring social impact?
We believe that when our business training gets underway we will be able to identify many social benefits for the participants and the commercial sector. We are well established in understanding the social impact of what we do and measuring this accordingly.  We monitor feedback from our audience, parents and carers and gather data from training we run.

What have you valued most about the ArtsForward programme?
Having the insight from a business volunteer has been invaluable.  His knowledge and expertise, are perfect for what we want to achieve. He is very accessible, approachable and excited about the prospect of a dance organisation training business people. 

Swans 3782:  Highfliers performance, Magpie Dance - photo credit: Tim Smith