Over the past 6 years, Creative United has established a unique network of exceptionally qualified business advisors whose expertise span the full breadth and depth of the arts and creative industries.

Andrew Evans is an experienced fundraising director and consultant who has secured seven figure donations from both individual donors and grant-makers in areas including arts and heritage, health and community development.  He has worked in close partnership with a number of universities and educational institutions to deliver strategic projects and has extensive knowledge and success in engaging statutory funders.

We sat down with him to talk about what he does and how he will be helping organisations on the Prosper North programme.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your area of expertise?
I had great ambitions to be a hotshot corporate lawyer,but spending time in city law firms cured me of that and I became a fundraiser!

Over the years I’ve worked both “in-house” and as a consultant for all sorts of charities and social enterprises – disability charities, youth charities, museums and galleries, churches, arts centres and medical causes. I think the thing I am best at is helping people to come up with different ways of thinking about their funding that don’t just repeat the patterns of the past; I get a real buzz out of helping organisations to find entirely new ways of sustaining themselves. I’ve had lots of grants from trusts and gifts from major donors over the years but the work that makes me happiest are the organisations where I’ve helped them earn more money or get lots of regular, small donations that fund their core work sustainably.

What do you think are the main challenges currently faced by cultural heritage organisations?
I think they are manifold. Here are my top three:
1. Government and the culture sector have colluded to create an expectation amongst the public that cultural heritage should be free or cheap to access no matter how much money you have; and we need to get back to a place where people appreciate the real cost of doing things well. That includes both visitors and funders!
2. Many of us (including me!) have bought into the myth that free or cheap entry delivers diversity of audience – whereas in reality it almost always just leads to the same middle-class people coming to our cultural heritage offer more often. We need to recognise that ‘hard-to-reach’ groups are, in fact, hard to reach and devote time and resource to encouraging them to engage with our wonderful offer.
3. On current projections Government spending will rise to its highest level as a share of national income for 40 years whoever wins the December election. Almost any increases will be eaten up by health and pensions spending; so there is not going to be any significant extra money for heritage or culture no matter who is in power. More of our money is going to have to come from other places – and we are going to have to try and protect and enhance our cultural heritage with less cash and fewer staff.

How do you think your knowledge and experience can help the organisations on the programme?
I’ve seen lots of organisations flourish over the years, some in really challenging circumstances. What all of them shared was a clear vision for what they wanted to do, that they could explain clearly and compellingly to people who might support them. They also mostly shared a healthy pragmatism – a willingness to flex the way they delivered their work and used their resources to ensure the organisation survived while sticking to its core mission. By definition cultural heritage organisations are conservative – they want to conserve or keep something precious. I can help people think through what they must retain in order to be true to their purpose, and what they need to change in order to be sustainable.

What skills would you like these organisations to develop through Prosper North?
I’d love to see a group of energetic, entrepreneurial cultural heritage organisations emerge that work as great cultural businesses doing good across our region. I’d love to see leaders who are commercially adept, can articulate passionately and concisely the difference they make and who are not afraid to try new things.

Find out more about Prosper North and apply for one of the next editions here