Meet Gwen Gaff, our State Manager in NT
Gwen Gaff on the Territory's vibrant and diverse arts sector.
What would you say is your key role as State Manager?
My role is to help artists, arts organisations and their boards build skills and expertise to access private funding and pro-bono support, and do what they do better. This brings them together in new ways and gives business leaders and donors the opportunity to share in the fun, networking, creativity that the arts and creative industries provide.
Can you give us a bit of background on your pre-Creative Partnerships life and some career highlights?
I’ve held leadership, management, marketing and business development roles in the arts, tourism and social sectors; and have vocational and pro bono experience developing strategic partnerships and acquiring funding through sponsorship, philanthropy, sales and grants.
I managed regional venues including the Goldfields Arts Centre and Walkington Theatre in WA and I was on the board of Circuitwest and Artgold Inc, the not for profit supporting the arts community in Kalgoorlie.
While leading Friends of the Art Gallery of WA, the volunteer-driven members association, we ran a vibrant calendar of events that connected leading and emerging artists and promoted the Museum of Modern Art, New York’s series of visiting exhibitions.
Establishing the Alice Springs Desert Park and securing inaugural sponsorship for Clean Up Australia’s Tasmanian campaign have been particularly rewarding.
Can you describe a typical day as a State Manager?
Each day varies, from meeting with artists, managers and development staff, to working with board members in supporting a more strategic approach in gaining new sources of funding. This requires researching each client to understand existing funding and relationships, tweaking what they are already doing well, and developing their strategies over the longer term.
I also meet with leaders in the arts sector, peak bodies, government, business and philanthropists on increasing private sector funding for the arts in the NT.
You provide on-the-ground support to arts organisations through our coaching and mentoring program. What are the three most common requests you receive from arts organisations?
- Feedback on their private sector fundraising strategies, and how to keep or develop existing relationships with businesses and donors
- How to seek new support from trusts and foundations or corporate/business and how to improve current proposals and approaches
- Help to develop a more strategic approach to raising funds for an upcoming project or program
- Help to attract business skills to boards.
What is the greatest outcome that you have had from delivering this program and what are you most proud of?
Seeing a revitalised and inspired commitment in the arts sector to develop their private sector funding relationships and funding. Our work reaches across the remote, regional and major centres. As a Territorian from Groote Eylandt and predominantly Alice Springs, I enjoy supporting our organisation to deliver it’s services and programs so broadly.
In the last year our team from Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth deliver training, coaching and presentations in Alice Springs and Darwin, and online resources will continue to grow as we meet the NT’s unique geographical needs.
From your experience, what are three key points that lead to a successful partnership with a corporate sponsor?
Successful partnerships are two-way relationships where both parties align in their values and desired outcomes. Corporate sponsors need:
- to see quality outcomes for their brand and profile, the artists, target audience and community
- engagement with the artist/organisation, project and audience
- to know they are in a partnership that will achieve the shared objectives, meet expectations and that their partner is accountable.
What is the best part of your job? The worst?
Seeing the lights go on in artists’ and managers’ eyes when they realise new opportunities and how they can repackage what they already do to source new support and funding. Helping business leaders and donors realise they can meet some of their goals by contributing to the arts and culture of the NT. The worst is that it’s creative, dynamic and inspiring work, with not enough hours in a day!