CLIMARTE on finding the perfect partners

The ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE festival is amassing an ever-growing band of supporters. We spoke with Executive Director of CLIMARTE festival, Bronwyn Johnson, to talk fundraising, partnerships, collaboration and growth.

CLIMARTE on finding the perfect partners

Before we talk shop let’s get know you a bit better. What are you currently…

Watching? SBS on demand.

Reading? The Reenchantment of Art by Suzi Gablick, Griffith Review and The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood.

Eating? Mushrooms.


Ok, let’s get to it. Tell us about your strategy for finding the perfect partners, and your best match to date?

At CLIMARTE we endeavour to seek donors and supporters who share the same principles of environmental sustainability.

Our aim is to provide tangible creative opportunities for all our partners to engage with the work of CLIMARTE – that is, we want our partners to come on the journey with us. Our partners can meet with the artists, attend roundtable discussions, open exhibitions and keynotes as well as provide opportunities for their own stakeholders and customers to attend public programs and events.

Our partnership with Bank Australia in 2015 was one of the best I’ve worked on – collaborative and cooperative. Our communication was constant and clear and we always discussed our progress.


How has your fundraising strategy evolved over the years, and why did you choose the Australian Cultural Fund (ACF) as your platform to raise funds?

The ACF provides a platform where tax-deductible donations can be made, and this is critically important for small and medium sized arts organisations. When we were approved for Creative Partnerships’ Plus1 program this gave us the added opportunity to advise a donor that their support would be matched by Plus1 which can make the ‘giver’ feel additionally empowered.


ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE festival is a big part of what you do.. How have you tackled the challenges and opportunities tied to the festival’s growth? How has it affected your campaigning?

My background is in producing programs and our focus is always to ensure the quality of the festival across the board.

For us, good programs assist in marketing any event and when the Huffington Post nominated the festival as one of the top ten climate change events for 2015 we knew that this could lead to further opportunities. CLIMARTE was subsequently invited to curate an exhibition as part of ArtCOP21, the cultural program running concurrently with the climate change negations in Paris during December last year.

Exhibitions and installations were held all over Paris: at museums and institutions such as the Pompidou Centre, Palais de Tokyo, Eiffel Tower, Le Bal, Place de Pantheon, The Natural History Museum as well as within the Paris metro and in the streets and canals.

In Paris, one could not move without being aware of the momentous negotiations taking place at Le Bourget. Posters, pictures, signs and graffiti were everywhere: in the metro stations, on billboards, advertising hoardings, and fixed to fences, while digital, print and social media of every kind provided continuous commentary and analysis.

The impact of these cultural responses were widely acknowledged and applauded in the world’s media. In addition, images of these cultural interventions were disseminated far and wide, conveying the sense of shared purpose, responsibility and determination that characterised both the Paris conference and the intentions and activities of creative cultural organisations who are working towards the goal of climate justice for all.

Our participation at ArtCOP21 has shaped our program for our forthcoming festival ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017. CLIMARTE has also made tangible connections – enhancing our international networks.


The festival takes place across Melbourne and regional Victoria. How do you target these different audiences? Do you look at them together, or as separate segments?

CLIMARTE seeks an audience of some 100,000+ for our next festival. We seek an audience of all ages and from all walks of life and we ensure that all our programs are free.

We mainly focus on program related sponsors, and seek to match programs with the specific interests of individual sponsors.


You have a dual focus – arts and environment. How have you approached this in relation to fundraising?

I think there is a real and growing understanding that a cultural response to the impacts of climate change and environmental sustainability is necessary to assist in the dissemination and understanding of climate science, and the engagement of people at a more personal and empathetic level.

Donors and sponsors who were once traditionally active in one or other of the arts or environment areas are now recognising the important crossover between these fields, and are very supportive of the new ways in which we are engaging with both sectors, and through them an exponentially wider audience.


You have significant partnerships that provide in-kind support, including your office accommodation. How essential are these partnerships to your sustainability, and what do you see as the benefits for both partners?

Vital. It is wonderful to have the support of David Leece, Director of the Billard Leece Partnership who provides CLIMARTE with in-kind office accommodation and facilities. In fact, this partnership ensures that we can focus on programming and has been fundamental to our success.


What are your tips for making your campaigning efforts as efficient and effective as possible?

I think honest and open communication is really the key. Then ensuring that you deliver the various sponsor benefits as outlined in your documentation. This is always much easier to do when there is active and good communication between the parties. Know your donors!


One of the things we love about your campaign strategy is the evolving campaign messages. Each fundraising campaign is distinct, with a fresh ‘ask’ or pitch. What are your tips for keeping your pitch engaging?

Again, it goes to what we are programming. We align our programs to specific sponsors, donors and individuals and this keeps our ‘ask’ fresh. Donors, like all of us, want to see progress and new ways of approaching issues.


What’s on your wish list for 2017 and beyond?

CLIMARTE is working on a number of programs, however for 2017 our main activity is our festival.

ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 will be held from 19 April to 14 May across Melbourne and regional Victoria. The festival will feature a major public art installation, over 20 curated exhibitions at Victoria’s leading museums and galleries, national and international guests, keynote lectures and public programs – and all free to the public!

ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 will deliver an expansive and stimulating series of events that can lead us towards a creative, just and sustainable future. We look forward to seeing you there.

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