What’s going on with Brainchild?
People have been asking us this question a lot over the past few months, and after much figuring out, we are finally in a place to tell you about it.
This year was in many ways our most wonderful festival, but it was also the toughest on all of us involved behind the scenes. Whilst we’d got good at running the show, and the world was getting louder in support for Brainchild and the artists we work with, our ability to make time for the project in evenings/weekends outside our normal jobs was running thin and we were stretched beyond our limits.
As most of you know, since its beginnings when we were 19 and threw ourselves into the deep-end of festival production, Brainchild has been running entirely on volunteer-power. People mucking in together against the odds, in displays of extraordinary good-will to support each other and make big things happen? That’s very cool. But we realised that the quality of what we could create was becoming threatened as our team couldn’t continue to do their jobs justice whilst their paid work was getting more demanding.
This year, it got to a point where it was clear that we couldn’t continue as we were. The future of Brainchild rested on whether we could make it sustainable without compromising what’s important. It was something we had no idea how to approach after going at things in such a DIY way for such a long time. It sent us on a mission to understand our options, and more importantly, to understand why Brainchild is worth doing, what it’s meant to people and what it could be for people in the future.
With only three weeks to go before the festival, after seemingly endless twists and turns, consultations, budgeting and re-writes, we submitted a funding application to Arts Council England that would support us to deliver our 2019 festival and develop our organisation.
Despite all the difficulties of the year, this year’s festival manifested into something wonderful. And in a way, not knowing whether the funding would come through allowed us to experience it in a special way: having to come to peace with the idea that it could be the last one, but without the gravity of actually knowing.
After the festival was a time of uncertainty. We had mixed emotions as a team. Strangely, despite the hard work we’d put into this funding application, we had a growing feeling that we wanted to leave the festival there and move onto new Brainchild projects. There’s a big web of reasons why we felt like this: being burned out, being faced with some important practical issues we didn’t know how to solve, and also being somewhat daunted by the huge work that 2019 would require. As the summer went on, we felt increasingly sure this was what we wanted.
It wasn’t until September that a couple of sparks lit in our minds about how it could work, and it was exactly at that moment that we found out we’d been awarded the whole grant by Arts Council.
Both excited and confused, we spent the next day getting advice and probing the different paths we could take, gradually realising how huge this opportunity was for Brainchild. After weeks of navigating the risks involved, diving into our finances and staff structures, we hope you’ll be glad to hear we’ve now happily accepted the ACE funding, and have begun building a bright future for Brainchild as a charity and producing company preparing for a 2019 that’s full of exciting projects, including our festival.
What does this mean moving forward?
With this funding from ACE, we finally have the opportunity to invest time as a paid team into business planning, registering as a charity, fundraising strategies and also into running year round projects.
This is the biggest break that Brainchild’s ever been given, and to anyone reading this who has supported us in getting here in ANY WAY – thank you. From giving quotes to feedback forms or just buying a ticket and getting involved, thank you. We now have the opportunity to secure Brainchild as a bold, imaginative, ethical and financially sustainable organisation for the future. We’ve always worked hard to make Brainchild a space for conversation, creativity and new ideas, and we’re so excited to finally have the opportunity to do so with proper support so we can prioritise the project. With our core team supported, we can’t wait to open up our doors more often and design inspiring projects, year-round.
From the most incredible foundations of love and support built up in the past six years, this is us saying we’re going to give this a go for the long term, and and we hope you’ll be part of it.
If you want to apply to work with us on next year, we’ve got a host of different roles available and would love to hear from you. We’re currently looking for a Festival Producer, Production & Operations Manager, Marketing Manager & Visual Arts Production Manager. You can read about them all here.