In March, I was part of an artists speaker panel discussion and networking session for artists and creative people, aimed at understanding how to maintain an art/work life balance. This was presented by the Neighbourhood Arts Network, ArtReach Toronto and Scarborough Arts with support from TELUS, Artscape ‘Ada Slaight Youth Mentorship Program’ & Toronto Arts Council.
Below are some sponsorship tools and techniques I had an opportunity to share with the audience:
1. Know – what you need and know what you want; know what you are willing to and not willing to sacrifice and compromise. Make a chart in the beginning until it becomes instinct if this helps you and before you sign any deal check it against the chart!
2. Listen – don’t go in with the mindset of take take take. Partnerships need to be mutually beneficial so make sure you listen to the needs of your potential partner; it will better position you to create a winning proposal. Always remember that the best sponsorships keep in mind that the communities you serve are equal partners, so the best partnerships are a win for you the organizer, the communities you serve, the sponsor/partner and the planet (try to make sure your partnership deals are considering the environmental impacts they will have and how you can balance or mitigate any negative effects on mother nature).
3. Value – know your value, a lot of the projects that we are working on give sponsors great access to communities they need/want to reach to survive and that their traditional ways of reaching them are no longer working, so don’t just give that away – value yourself and more importantly value the communities you represent properly.
4. Compatibility – really take some time to think about who your ideal partners would be and if they match your project’s ‘brand’ – and then go after them. Don’t forget about the unlikely and innovative partnerships on those lists as well – some of the greatest ideas need new and groundbreaking cross-sectoral partnerships to be fully realized. Dream big and make them happen.
5. Integrity – Always keep the integrity of your project and the people you are doing the project with/for at the top of the list.
6. I had to break the rules and add a 6th.. Break the rules!! Make your own way. Be a pioneer and a maverick. Create new ways of partnership and sponsorship. We are living in a very unique time where sponsorship, partnerships, collaborations, social responsibility are all in a new frontier and young people can be the ones leading the way in this domain… so make your own rules and don’t live in any boxes…everything is possible if you believe it and work hard.