house profile series (2/4) : venue fundraising and development

Laura Jostins-Dean

Laura Jostins-Dean
Role: Development Manager
Organisation:  Corn Exchange and New Greenham Arts


Laura Jostins-Dean is the Development Manager at the Corn Exchange and New Greenham Arts in Newbury. She shares with us the importance of venue fundraising, and the benefits of engaging with the local community with these projects.

So Laura, how does fundraising play a part at the Corn Exchange & New Greenham Arts, and what does it allow the venues to achieve?

Fundraising is an integral part of the Corn Exchange’s activity. In a nutshell, we need to raise money from individuals, trusts and foundations and corporate sponsors to help us do all of the great work we do in and around Newbury including our outdoor work and our learning and participation projects, as well as supporting the maintenance and upkeep of our beautiful building.

What projects have you been working on recently, and how have they impacted on the development of your venue?

I joined the Corn Exchange in June 2015 and since then my work has mainly been focused on writing a number of major funding applications, reshaping our membership scheme and developing a new fundraising strategy. I worked with our Learning and Participation team on a successful bid to the Big Lottery, Reaching Communities fund to support a new three year programme of work, Ageing Creatively, allowing us to work with older people across West Berkshire. I also submitted two successful applications to the Arts Council, one for their Small Scale Capital Fund to support the Corn Exchange in becoming more environmentally friendly with upgrades to our toilets, lifts, air conditioning and the installation of solar panels. The other was for the Catalyst Evolve programme   which will allow us to build capacity for fundraising across the organisation over the next three years (and beyond!).

How do you adapt to the cuts in Arts funding, and changing levels of council support?

In response to the ongoing cuts in Arts funding we have realised how crucial it is to turn to your local community for support. When we received an unexpected reduction in local authority funding earlier this year we did something the Corn Exchange hadn’t tried before and asked our audiences and local community to support us and help fill the gap left by these cuts. We launched our ‘Love Your Corn Exchange’ appeal asking all of our supporters and audiences for a donation of £10 and were astounded by the hugely positive reaction we received. We raised just over £12,000 in six weeks and even received a number of handwritten letters from people saying how much the Corn Exchange means to them. It is always a tough challenge dealing with changing levels of council support but knowing that the organisation is valued by the local community and people are very willing to support us has helped us remain very optimistic about the future.

Tell us what you enjoy most about being the Development Manager at the Corn Exchange & New Greenham Arts?

I think I’m lucky in that working in fundraising often provides a good level of job satisfaction (although not without frustrations too!) and I love almost all aspects of my job at the Corn Exchange. The thing I probably enjoy the most is seeing how the funds I raise make projects happen and help the organisation to continue to grow, especially in continually challenging times!