Why benchmarking is good for you

It’s all very well knowing that turnover is vanity and profit is sanity (and of course, that Cash is King), but how do you evaluate whether the profit that you are successfully making – assuming that you are breaking even and making that holy grail of profit on a monthly basis – is as much Read the full article…

Creative Lenses Forum will explore innovative business models in the arts

Creative Lenses Forum Innovative business models in the arts 13/10/16 University of the Arts London

Times of austerity can foster great art, but have the past few years led to innovation in the business models that support it? A forthcoming event at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London will look at exactly that question by exploring business model innovation of independent arts venues and performing arts organisations. Read the full article…

Benchmarking for Catalyst Arts orgs: What we learnt

We spent Wednesday 19th Feb with some 30 ACE Catalyst funded organisations to look at how to use data to help them plan and measure the successes of their income generating activities. Sarah Thelwall was joined by William Makower and Paul Cutts of the National Funding Scheme who gave an overview of how Donate works Read the full article…

Arts Council England open application process for NPOs

The next round of funding for National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) is open for applications. From now until 17 March 2014 the Arts Council England application process is accepting submissions from UK organisations for the next three years of funding streams for the period 2015 – 2018. In the announcement yesterday from ACE, Chief Executive Alan Read the full article…

Culture Benchmark Workshop: setting the baseline against which to compare progress of your Catalyst activities

The purpose of this half day workshop is to respond to the various enquiries that we have received about whether and how the data in the Culture Benchmark can be used to benchmark your current income generating activities against your peers. As you are probably aware the Culture Benchmark provides a mix of free and paid services to arts organisations to help them to use financial data to adapt their business model in response to the changes in arts funding. Benchmarking is something that works both at an individual organisational level and with clusters of organisations who have something in common.

In this afternoon event we will help you:

  • Structure your thinking about how you are leveraging both your tangible and intangible assets into new income streams
  • Work out what comparison groups would be most useful to you … by turnover range, geography, and by sector and types of activity
  • Understand how the data held in the Culture Benchmark can be used to set a baseline against which to compare your income development progress … not just as an organisation comparing progress against your own history but also by comparison to your peers and thus the ‘average’ and ‘best in class'
  • Work out what ‘best in class’ looks like for your type of organisation and mix of activities
  • Use benchmark data to set targets internally and communicate your successes to your stakeholders

The plan is that by the end of the session you will have:

  • Clarity on what comparisons are most useful to your organisation
  • Clarity on who to class as your peers within the context of this income development work
  • Thoughts on clusters of peers you might like to convene on an occasional basis to share experiences with
  • Understanding of how the Culture Benchmark could be used in your organisation (along with clarity on what’s available free vs. what is included in a subscription)

Event details: SOLD OUT**
Time: 2-5pm
Date: Wednesday 19 February 2014
Location: The Showroom, 63 Penfold St, London NW8

All recipients of ACE Catalyst funding are eligible to attend this free workshop but places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To attend please book here on our eventbrite page

**please email administrator@sarahthelwall.co.uk to register your interest for a future seminar.

What is benchmarking anyway?
If the concept of benchmarking is new to you and you are wondering what it is and how it works you might find these free resources useful:


We are hosting a free half day workshop at the Showroom in London from 2-5pm on Wednesday February 19th for any (or all!) ACE Catalyst funded organisations to learn how to use benchmarking data to set a baseline against which to compare the progress of their Catalyst activities. Places are limited so please book here Read the full article…

Sarah’s off to hear from Cambridge MBA students

Tomorrow I shall be joining a panel of experts at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University to hear research from the capstone project.  I’m excited to learn what the teams of MBA students propose for culture organisations, how to adapt business models in order to raise and spend funds as they wish. The JBS Captstone Project is assisting the Read the full article…

Sorry to hear about the dis-investment by ACE, how can we help?

Ok, so it’s easy to congratulate the winners from the ACE NPO review but the next question is how do we help those who are on the blunt end of the dis-investment? Well, the Culture Benchmark can certainly help you explore the business models of organisations in your sector, region and of a similar size Read the full article…

The value of benchmarking when the past is not an indicator of the future

We’ve been talking to various people who are considering using the Culture Benchmark because they are going through significant infrastructural change. The challenge for an organisation who is refurbishing their building or moving into new and different facilities. The challenge here is that if you’ve been running a 350 seater theatre and you will soon Read the full article…