Find out about the work of the Development Team.

The results of much of the hard work which goes on backstage at Scottish Ballet can be seen on stage as costumes, props and scenery as well as the choreography itself, but there is also a great deal happening behind the scenes off stage. One of the administration-based departments is Development, whose main responsibility is to raise funds to help the Company develop its award-winning repertoire and educational resources.

“Scottish Ballet is funded by the Scottish Government,” explains Head of Development Antonia Brownlee, “but as a registered charity, we seek to raise income from businesses, Charitable Trusts and Foundations and individuals to supplement box office income and the core funding we receive from the Government.”

The Development team, currently a department of four, manages funding from three main streams. In addition to grants from Trusts and Foundations such as The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation that support the Apprentice Dancers Scheme, corporate sponsorship plays a vital part in supporting the Company’s touring activities. This can range from supporting a dancer through the Sponsor a Dancer scheme to in-kind sponsorship such as supplying refreshments for Scottish Ballet events, to sponsorship of a tour. Private bank Adam & Company, Artemis Investment Management, Baillie Gifford and Aberdeen Asset Management are among the many businesses that currently support Scottish Ballet.

The third income stream is individual giving which includes major donors, Friends of Scottish Ballet and the generous fans of the Company who contribute through appeals to support current productions. 

“You need to be organised, creative and positive, and you need to be able to multi-task as you are managing three income streams at all times,” says Development Manager Helen Searl. “You can’t just dedicate your focus to one thing on one day – at any time, you could get a phone call that changes everything.”  

friends-eventOn a typical day in the office, the team can be liaising with current and potential sponsors, writing sponsorship proposals and Trust applications, managing donations, arranging hospitality with theatres and producing Backstage, the magazine for Friends and supporters of Scottish Ballet. The team also runs special events for supporters in the Company’s headquarters at Tramway, which include watching rehearsals, social receptions and informative talks and sharing events based on the current season.

Scottish Ballet is always looking for new ways for potential donors to feel they are making a valuable contribution to the Company, both now and in the future. One way of securing support for the future is the Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund, which was introduced last year, allowing supporters to choose to leave a legacy to the Fund in their Will.

eventWhen the Company is on tour, the Development team is also at the theatre, meeting and entertaining sponsors donors and guests.

“If sponsors want to entertain clients at the theatre, we are there to organise it all for them,” says Helen “A lot of our guests are experiencing ballet for the first time so we’ll be there at the intervals to talk to them about what they’re seeing on stage and to make sure they have a memorable evening.”

Once the team is back at base, they will begin working on fundraising appeals and seeking sponsors up to 18 months in advance.

“You have to be really motivated to work in fundraising as you’re always working ahead and looking to form new relationships, and there are set backs along the way, which you have to learn not to take personally,” explains Antonia. “You just have to be good with people, and above all, believe in what you’re fundraising for.”