Imma draws on a mix of fundraisers
As one of Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) receives its funding directly from the Government, rather than through the Arts Council.
Sarah Glennie, director of Imma: “It says something that leading companies commit to the arts.”
This might lead you to think it is well taken care of but Imma, like every institution and organisation in Ireland, has suffered cuts, and has to find a new balance between programming and paying; funding and fundraising.
This is nothing new. Most of Ireland’s arts organisations are adept at forging financial partnerships and have been for years. What’s changed is that the emphasis has shifted from finding the wherewithal to run special projects and publish colour catalogues; to simply keeping the show on the road.
In the 1990s, Glen Dimplex supported exhibitions and awards at Imma that introduced leading Irish artists to international audiences.
Current director of Imma Sarah Glennie believes that the influence of partnerships goes beyond the purely financial. “They give a sense of value to the visual arts. It says something that leading companies commit to the arts.”
Today Imma’s budgets are carefully balanced between Government support, sponsorship, membership, venue hire (you can have your wedding in the beautiful banqueting hall), events and other initiatives.
The Imma Editions series has artists donating limited-edition prints to be sold in support of the museum’s programme.
Glennie sees fundraising in today’s climate as more about the mix than about a search for that one mythical sponsor who will ride in and pick up all the bills. “We have to be flexible and work at a range of levels; getting more people involved.”
In the USA the mantra for board members of arts organisations is “Give, Get or Go”, and it’s not unusual to have to donate a great deal of money to get a seat on the board of the most prestigious museums, a system that is not without its issues . Is that in Imma’s future?
“You have to remember,” says Glennie, “that in the USA an institution will have multiple boards and, while we might look to them with envy, what we do has to be appropriate to Ireland.
“I don’t think we’ll get to the point where people pay to be on boards here so, yes, we need fundraisers on the board, and we’re clear about that role, but we also need people with sound governance experience.”