More Than 100 Stories is a commission led by artists Sarah Butler and Nicole Mollet that explores and creatively maps the Creative People and Places programme.

The Money Bootcamp


On the 19th March 2016 Nicole Mollett attended the ‘Money Bootcamp’ in Ely organised by Market Place and supported by Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy.

I want to make Books exciting as Birthdays!

The event was being held in the Maltings community hall, beside the river Ely. The room was full of friendly faces, people who had come from all over to learn about funding and with a range of different ideas. Each person attending was given a workbook folder filled with useful prompts and exercises to help develop a funding bid. Kate Hall, the Market Place director welcomed the audience. She gave a motivational introduction, I noted her remark; ‘often there is a fear of starting’. Oh yes! The familiar moment; when you have downloaded the application form and guidance notes. When suddenly there appears an invisible concentration barrier, which includes doing everything else, including tidying your flat instead of getting started. There is only one solution and that is I quote; ‘Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard!’

Next came a range of speakers to share with the audience their ‘Secrets of Success’. I particularly liked Emily Bradfield’s ‘What does as Bad Application look like?’ it is funny how when you look at it from this back to front way, how easy it is to spot mistakes. For example; don’t hide the beneficiaries, don’t cut & paste, be precise, think about format, have clear outcomes. Having read multiple funding applications myself, I know that clearly articulated good ideas always stand out from the pile. However it is easier to judge other people’s work, but much harder to do in person.

Someone at some point said; ‘The bids that get turned down are often when their heart is not in it. The funders see that’. I agree with this statement. Each new idea needs a driving force, the person who is a parent, and breathes life into it. This is not a passive process; you need passion, you need to care.

This was followed by the first session of working in groups. The tables were split into; Project rationale, understanding your audience, pitching to the Funder, and being funding ready. This gave the opportunity to hear some of the ideas people had come along with. These included; a music festival in small rural village, revamping the local Christmas lights event, creating a visual archive about horse racing, and a music store audio trail.

During lunch there was a series of ‘Community Soup Pitches’. Three participants were given 10 minutes each to present their ideas and compete for £500 worth of funding. The ideas ranged from a theatrical audio trail about the history of Brandon, art journal workshops to help people express themselves including those with mental health issues, and a literature festival with workshops and talks. We the audience got a vote each, using an intriguing decorated button in jar method. They were all such brilliant presentations it was hard to decide. The audio trail won (congratulations!).

The afternoon workshops covered; Partnerships, Timelines, Budgets, Marketing Strategy, and other Sources of Income. These were all highly informative, decoding jargon words, breaking down incomprehensible tasks into digestible chunks. I did reach saturation point towards the end, but I blame that more on tiredness mixed with too much caffeine, than the quality of the conversations. My mind was buzzing with ideas. I came away with a positive attitude towards my own ability to go for funding. In fact anyone can do it. The only requirements are a good idea, determination and belief.

As an observer and participant I found the ‘Money Bootcamp’ inspirational. Demystifying the fundraising game, helping build individuals’ confidence is what CPP is all about. Empowering the wider community to make their ideas happen themselves, is surely the most sustainable model for increasing creative activity in the long run.


For more on Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy go to

To read the Market Place story on the day