Episode 4

Succession, vision, uncertainty then Kerr Neilson and a Nutshell: the story of Bell Shakespeare’s $3 million gift


Peter Evans, Artistic Director, Bell Shakespeare

From stepping into the founder’s shoes, to navigating government and immense competition, the extraordinary story of an Artistic Director who reluctantly asks not once but twice, to finally achieve a permanent home for Bell Shakespeare.

Melissa's key learnings from the story:

  1. Philanthropy and donors are fundamental to the very existence, and community of BS. Their presence is felt through the company – from acceptance of the Artistic Director, to sharing plans for the future, to battling through the challenges of COVID. They are genuinely part of the world that is Bell Shakespeare.

  2. To secure these extraordinary gifts, you have to ask. You must have the courage to ask, at the appropriate time, for the appropriate amount, in the appropriate way. And even if it doesn’t work the first time. Have the courage to ask again. If Bell Shakespeare had not asked for a second time, this gift would never have been achieved.

  3. Discomfort around fundraising is real, and understandable. But this is why it is important to have a team around the company driving this – not just fundraiser, or just a CEO – but Board, Ex/Art and head of fundraising – to support, coach, console and persist to achieve the extraordinary.

Recommendations to apply in your own organisation:

  1. Ensure your donors are a genuinely engaged part of your community, that are alongside you and your organisation for the ups and downs and everything in between.

  2. Have the courage to ask, and keep asking.

  3. It is a team of people who sit behind these stories, and most stories, of ‘how we raised it’.

How We Raised It Podcast

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