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Webinar: Developing New Revenue Streams

Discover how repayable finance can be used to facilitate new, income-generating activities for your organisation in this Q&A with Fuse Arts Space / CAMP FR.

In this webinar, James Birchall, Director of Fuse Arts Space and CAMP FR, talks about his experience of taking on repayable finance to facilitate a completely new revenue stream that is designed to support the ambitions of another project. James runs Fuse Arts Space in Bradford, a performance and gallery space that hosts exhibitions, concerts, workshops as well as running a record label and publishing imprint. CAMP FR is a residential arts facility in the French pyrenees which was born out of Fuse and the relationships developed there. The camp runs 5-day residencies on art, music and writing, taught by exciting practitioners from their field including Terry Riley, Julia Holter and Simon Armitage.  

The aim of CAMP FR is to enable people to make new work that may be showcased at Fuse and to allow any surpluses to be passed up to Fuse so that it may become less reliant on grant funding. CAMP’s five year plan projects that the residencies will become profitable enough to enable Fuse to carry on without relying on ACE or public funding. Arts Impact Fund’s loan supported the purchase of the former farmhouse where CAMP is based and refurbishment work. 

The Q&A with James begins at 22:04, preceded by an introduction from the Arts & Culture finance team that explains what we offer, what we look for and other examples of similar projects that the team are currently pursuing. Key points from the webinar are also written below.

Q&A with James Birchall

Developing CAMP FR

  • Fuse’s directors spent a lot of time on residencies as artists and identified a gap in the market for shorter residencies. 
  • All activity at Fuse and the relationships developed contributed in some way towards preparing for the project. The team had a successful gallery in the community but no collateral to put into CAMP. The main assets were the directors’ knowledge, skills, contacts and relationships.
  • Conversations with Fuse’s network and developing a preliminary programme for CAMP was critical, as the feedback helped to inform the business plan. If a project is community driven, it won’t be a struggle to find people to collaborate with.

Pivoting during COVID

  • All in-person residencies and workshops were cancelled for 2020. Where possible, workshops were moved to online and the programme for 2020 was postponed until 2021. Zoom courses were free for those who committed to attending in 2021.
  • The team were initially very sceptical of running workshops on Zoom but began to realise online workshops have their own strengths. The best ones made the most of people being in different places, for example a field recording workshop that could collect multiple sounds from various locations
  • Due to the success of the online programme, CAMP are about to launch a new series of digital workshops.
  • To run programmes online, organisations need to be very responsive to what their audience does and doesn’t want – this can change quickly. The Fuse/CAMP teams are working on making their experiences more immersive and experimenting with VR, Minecraft and Second Life, whilst trying to avoid further barriers to access. 

Approval rates at ACF Investment Committees

  • The Arts and Culture Finance team won’t take any investment applications to the investment committee unless they think it will be approved, so only a minority of cases are declined. A lot of work goes into the due diligence and application process from both sides and the team are able to identify any potential problems early on. 
  • If an organisation is in the early stages of their market research, the team would still encourage them to enquire and see what is possible.