Creative Capital – Maximising your earning potential –

Well, as many of you will know by now, in CidaCo we’ve been successful with a major ACE G4A bid and work starts now!  It’s called Creative Capital, it lasts 12 months, it’s for supporting cultural organisations across Yorkshire and The Humber, and its primary purpose is to help organisations acquire the knowledge, skills and networks to become resilient.  I heard someone the other day comment that, if they heard the word ‘resilient’, again, they’d defenestrate – I have some sympathy with that – ever since the redoubtable Mark Robinson wrote his paper on Resilience,  it seems to be the word that appears in every article, every conversation, about how arts organisations move into the future – in a world of social media, I guess that’s called influence!

Resilience(Google Images

Nevertheless, it’s an appropriate word.  For many of us, the last few years have been ghastly.  I was going to say ‘a challenge’ but it felt too removed from the visceral reaction I have when I look back! – in CidaCo, we certainly went through the mill:  we lost three contracts worth £3m almost overnight when the RDAs closed down – if that doesn’t concentrate the mind, nothing does!  We’d seen it coming, of course, once the election results were in, but I don’t think we’d anticipated the speed and savagery of the cuts that followed – and apparently there are a lot more still to come.  Our market place changed and we had to be pretty fleet of foot to adapt.   Frankly, we’ve got a great Board and we’ve got Keith Evans – everyone should have  a Keith! – and strong elements of pragmatism, long term perspective, fundamental belief in the value of what CidaCo does, and calculated risk taking has got us through, this far at least!  Our business model has had to change; our turnover is very different from what it was, but our profitability is up, our sense of adventure is undimmed and we are discovering new clients both at home and overseas.

Before it all happened, we knew the theory, of course, about resilience – but now we have really lived it (and are still living it!)  We think that there is much in our arsenal of management practice that helped us through and we thought it might be useful to other organisations.  Of course, we can give you the theoretical underpinning, but this is real life – real practice.  So we’ve brought together a really amazing team of very serious players (including the wonderful Mark Robinson!) and we’re offering 20 organisations the opportunity to work with us to develop a pilot of how to maximise revenue potential that doesn’t include ACE grants – we’ll look at everything – including the obvious fundraising, philanthropy and sponsorship – but fundamentally we want to help you look again at how you can earn more money, particularly through the exploitation of what you know, who you know, what you’ve already created and what you might create in the future. To  some, this is known as exploitation of assets, tangible and intangible.  To others, this is exploiting your property, physical and intellectual.   Whichever phrase you use, this is about two things: firstly, making sure you are managing your existing money to maximum effect:  and secondly, bringing all your capacity for creativity and innovation to bear on the need to develop new work, or new ways of exploiting old work, to generate new earned income.

Resilience 2

[The caption reads:  Snow White is the new flavour of the month, huh?  No biggie.  The evil Queen simply replaced her once trusty magic mirror with some more useful wall decor. From

As some of you will know, Keith and I became obsessed with innovation some years ago.  It seemed, from both our perspectives, a completely natural and organic development of our creative practice, taking creativity into non-creative arenas,like business!  Through the good offices of Will Hutton and  the Work Foundation, who had already worked with them, I met the amazing Herman Gyr and Laszlo Gyorffy of EDG in Silicon Valley ( and somehow managed to persuade them to work with us – five years later, we are in strong partnership with them and still developing stuff together.  They’d worked with the BBC (helped Andy Parfitt rescue Radio 1) and, just recently, with Universal Music Group – (which was interesting: whilst they were doing that, we were working with new independent musicians helping them to distribute their work and develop their audiences without major record labels – plus ca change!) – but we use the same tools for innovation and transformation that always work brilliantly, irrespective of the size of our client.  Keith is currently using them with a leading financial institution and a globally recognised charity – I’m using them with major multi-national corporates in Southern Africa and with BAME independent artists here in Yorkshire.  And this is one of the things we want to offer you!  In the last five years, things have inevitably moved on – the thinking, globally as it were, is becoming more sophisticated as companies increasingly embrace the need to be innovative.   We have the process – a brilliant one created by EDG for SRI, the world leading innovation specialists – called COSTAR ( see “Creating Value with COSTAR”, from your nearest Amazon!) –  but now we have taken the process and linked it to organisational strategy  to create an integrated and structured  way of moving from ideas to the market place AND embedding a culture of innovation across the entire organisation. As many of you who have been through this process with us, will know, it’s stimulating, it’s challenging, it’s enlightening and it is fun.  Best of all, it helps you achieve real results, whether you are a  mission-led or a profit-led organisation.

But innovation by itself is not enough – it needs to be adopted within a broader context of excellent management capabilities; essentially, we are aiming to help organisations increase their financial resources, improve their capacity for collaboration and increase their capacity for generating rewarding new ideas, to delight their customers and bring benefit to their own companies.   The role of leaders of organisations is particularly important – without their overt involvement, it’s almost impossible to secure the engagement of everyone else, particularly since there is a risk in being involved:  if you don’t think the leader will support your ideas, what’s the point of getting involved?  But the joy of this is that, once leaders engage, then we can involve everyone in the organisation,  from Artistic Director to Stage Door Keeper – no one has the monopoly on good ideas and, again and again, people who are on the front line, as it were, actually meeting audiences, artists and suppliers face to face, are often best placed to know what’s driving people mad and to come up with ideas that make a difference – (many years ago, I once had a stage doorkeeper, (female, natch!), who pointed out that customers would prefer soft toilet paper instead of the ghastly Council issue:  you wouldn’t believe how many letters of appreciation we received and no mere manager would have thought of it!)

We’re going to take you into new territory, for some of you at least.  We want to talk to you about environmental sustainability as part of your daily practice – and we want to help you look at the benefits of digital technology, not just for creative work, as important as that is, but also for the way we work, collaborate, communicate and generally get our ideas across.  Social media is the buzz thing these days but do you know how to use for the benefit of your company? How to make it really work for you?  Andy Lovatt of The White Room specialises in Enterprise 2.0 – we’ll bring him to you!

We’ve got a great team – yes, I know everyone says that but I mean it! – With Keith and I , you have Lara Ratnaraja who is a living, working authority on business excellence in our sector; Margaret Bolton, who some will know from her work for MMM – previously, she’s worked at ACE National office, NCVO and the Cabinet Office.  We have an amazing financial star, Wayne Bowser, recently retired Director of HSBC, now Chair of the refurb of Piece Hall restoration, amongst other things.  He will bring an financier’s beady eye to the way our sector handles money as well as deep experience of being on the other end of sponsorship negotiations! And we have the ineffably wonderful Teo Greenstreet, who brings his commitment and passion for environmental sustainability to work with you to embed this into your management practice.  We’ll be running various events as well, with fascinating people coming to talk about their experiences and to show how they’ve dealt with life’s slings and arrows – and come out smiling!

It’s a great programme – if you are interested, get in touch with Dawn – we can only work with 20 organisations so there is, I’m afraid, a selection process, but we want companies of all sizes, all art forms,  to participate, so don’t please assume it’s not for you – we’d really welcome a conversation!

All the best


Anamaria Wills   (T) anamariacida

PS  Mark’s paper can be fond here :