HATCH are Natalie Walton and Alison McIntyre, blending together their skills in art, education, project management and creative event organisation. They ‘establish and host events for communities to create, make and debate, with a collective interest in how art can make a real difference to people’s lives’. Their ethos and approach begins with consultation and ‘creates projects where everyone involved feels an ownership of what has been created and can see a legacy for themselves in the future of the project’.

What: Community Interest Company
When: Cohort 3

How HATCH describe their experience

of the Prosper North programme:

Informative – Useful Inspiring

They chose to engage with Prosper North support in order to rebalance their organisation after the major success of their WOVEN festival in Kirklees – ‘it was perfect timing’.

HATCH had burst onto the cultural scene of Yorkshire, establishing their new business alongside delivering WOVEN in 2019. It celebrated the innovation in textiles that made and continues to shape Kirklees though art, creativity and industry. Working with a range of communities, artists and businesses they delivered over 100 events from knitting, to dance, to science, to theatre and music, all telling the stories of the area and so creating a unique sense of place. They had been given a contract to deliver WOVEN to 2023 and so had a strong business base but wanted to ensure that they could respond to other opportunities and develop other projects within HATCH – in particular Art Doctors.

Working with their advisor they took the time to go on a journey, ‘as if building the business from scratch’ being reassured that ‘you’re never going to think it all out in advance… [&] the first five years is always reactive’ and that actually, what they were doing was right and is amazing!

From the basics of book-keeping and regular reporting to a new ModFin-inspired business plan, the new shape and thoughtful ethos of HATCH has emerged. They have recruited a pool of like-minded associates which gives them the time to think and add value to HATCH, and now invest 10-15% of any income into core funds, while supporting the creation of new partnerships, networks and initiatives. A new social media strategy enabled more targeted engagement and, exciting new ventures such as work around social prescribing mean higher visibility and connections beyond culture, while opening up new possibilities for targeted funding and greater sustainability.

Working throughout COVID-19, they maintained contact with their networks through new digital content, including videos such as the Art Doctors’ Lockdown Specials, online resources, workshops and talks for WOVEN and Art Brunch social sessions.

They took advantage of all the Prosper North support but particularly valued the 1:1 sessions they had with their Prosper North adviser, which gave them confidence to transform and strengthen their business, trust their skills and judgement, and take time in taking it forward.

HATCH said of Prosper North
"It made us think differently about everything we are doing … and reassured us we were getting it right."

Prosper North was a free programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and delivered by Creative United in partnership with Key FundBates WellsSocial Investment Business. The programme offered a mix of free, tailored 1:1 business support, workshops, webinars and meetups designed to enable cultural heritage organisations in the North of England to increase income and impact, become more resilient businesses and explore social investment.

You can find out more about the Prosper North programme here.