Jayne Watson on the challenges and opportunities of arts fundraising during COVID-19

Jayne watson portrait fullres
Jayne Watson

Jayne Watson is the CEO of the National Arts Centre Foundation.

Q. What donor trends are emerging due to the crisis?

A: We’re seeing, not surprisingly, donors stepping up to assist what I’d call frontline services: health care, hospitals, food banks during this unprecedented global pandemic.

Q. What have you been hearing from NAC Foundation donors since the pandemic hit?

A: Our donors are concerned about our people, our employees at the NAC, our artists, our programming. They are missing the music, theatre and dance that the NAC brings into their lives. They are anxiously awaiting the reopening of our building, but in the mean time they are enjoying our digital offerings like NACO Home Delivery and #CanadaPerforms.

Q. What challenges and opportunities are the NAC Foundation facing because of the pandemic?

A: One challenge is that, understandably, the crisis means that most Canadians are being inundated with messages about the crisis, both news, as well as charitable appeals. There are a lot of messages in the marketplace. That makes it harder to get your institutional or donor messages out during this time. On the other hand, a silver lining is that we have seen how much people in self isolation/quarantine appreciate music, art, books as sources of comfort and inspiration.

Q. Where do you think the performing arts is heading, post-pandemic?

A: While nothing will ever replace the shared experience of being with others in a theatre or concert hall for a live performance, I think we’ll see more live streaming and digital content in the performing arts.

Q. What do you say to donors about the future of the NAC?

A: I want to say “thank-you” to our donors: your support is always important to the success of the NAC, but even more critical during this challenging time. Our donors believe in the NAC and in the transformative power of the performing arts and their generosity is a catalyst for performance, creation and learning at the NAC. I’d want to reassure them that everyone at the NAC is working really hard to be ready for the time when it’s safe for us to gather together again to be inspired by the performing arts.

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