Providing a big boost to London’s artistic community

March 2, 2010 -  Mark Spowart,  The Londoner Newspaper

Gord Hume, London City Council

London ’ s artistic community is looking for a boost to its fundraising skills and its bank accounts. That boost may just come through the artsVest program. London is one of 15 Ontario communities to be awarded the artsVest matching grant opportunity over the next four years thanks to funding support from business members of Business for the Arts as well as
the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Ministry of Culture.

“ A s Londoners, we are proud of our proactive work to ensure our community truly becomes a creative city,” says Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. “ And we are grateful to Business for the Arts for providing this wonderful opportunity to move closer to our goal through this innovative funding program. ”

According to their website, artsVest is a matching incentive program run by Business for the Arts, which is designed to stimulate business investment in arts, culture, bolster municipal cultural plans and help develop the creative economy in the city.

Nichole Anderson, BftA President & CEO

In the last three years Business for the Arts has brought the artsVest program to 11 Ontario municipalities and has seen 130 arts organizations go through sponsorship training and
secure 370 business partners in funding relationships— 222 of those having never sponsored the arts before. To date, $535,000 matching funds has stimulated $925,000 in business dollars, generating $1,46 million in total for arts and culture in those eleven Ontario communities.

Besides providing funding for the arts, Andrea Halwa, executive director of the London Arts Council, says there is another important benefit coming out of the program. “ The artsVest program will help to form lasting partnerships between the arts and business communities of London. The program incentives will help the business community to invest in the arts by matching sponsorship dollars to artsVest dollars. ”

The key, officials say, to artsVest success has been the matching opportunity provided through matching grants to businesses that invest in the arts as well as the training given to arts organizations on how to approach the business community with a partnership plan.

London has up to $75,000 available through matching funds, with a maximum of $10,000 per application. “ O nce it ’ s gone, it ’ s gone. It may be matched at a higher amount, I am
hoping the arts and heritage community can use the whole $75,000, ” says Mrs. Armistead.

“ T he education program is designed to help us understand from a business perspective, what abusiness might be looking for, when they invest in the arts. It takes a lot of work to develop those relationships and then you have to maintain those relationships, you want some key sponsors that align with your key business, it is kind of like a courtship where arts and heritage can align with their sponsors.

Another crucial element to artsVest ’ s success has been the commitment of municipalities to make culture an integral part of their city planning, thereby creating a wonderful foundation from which to build on. “ W e certainly worked with the London Arts Council, London Heritage and Museum London, they know they have a role to play to help their sector, ” said Mrs. Armistead. “ I think we were chosen because we have a culture plan and the necessary infrastructure they were looking for in a community of our size. ”

artsVest London Community Launch

To view a full gallery of artsVest’s London launch, click here.