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Staff Spotlight: Sarah Randell, Head of Development

Sarah Randell, Head of Development

What brought you to the Everyman & Playhouse?

The job advert popped into my inbox one day and it was a right time/right place situation. My background is fundraising and marketing within the education sector and although I was looking for a fresh challenge, I wasn’t thinking about theatre. So I’m here more by accident than design but I’m loving the job and definitely want to stay in the arts beyond my contract at e&P – I’m here for a year doing maternity cover, you see.

What are your interests?

I like to escape to beaches and hills so I’m missing the East Lothian coastline which is where I’ve moved from. On the flip side, I’m enjoying discovering what Liverpool has to offer. I love Neil Pearson’s description, on the Dear Everyman footage, of Liverpool as “the most gloriously mouthy city on earth”.  While I’m here I also want to do a ‘Who do you think you are?’ because I have family roots here, two and three generations ago.

So tell us a bit about the Development department…

We’re a team of three – myself, Anne and Beth. Our work is currently focused on fundraising from trusts and foundations; on building the base of regular gifts from individuals and on securing support from the business community – sponsorships and corporate social responsibility. We believe passionately that theatre at its best can transform lives and have a deep impact in the wider communities we serve.

What has been the most exciting project that you’ve worked on?

Well, I’ve only been here three months but there have been two big awards from trusts already, which is great! One of a number of current projects is raising funds from our alumni to support a trainee actor role in the new repertory company, which is very exciting.

What's your favorite part of the job?

The highlights have definitely been opening eagerly awaited envelopes and punching the air with delight at the news that we’ve been awarded significant sums from trusts – it makes all the hard work so worthwhile.

What are the topical issues you’re facing when fundraising for theatres?

We’re currently reviewing our regular giving programme for individual donors and have been wrestling with issues around benefits-led schemes versus a more philanthropic, cause-related approach which is our preference as we believe that will serve e&P best in the long run. I’m mindful too that public distrust in charities has never been worse, so it’s crucial to be uber-ethical and transparent in our fundraising practices and reports to donors.

Why are theatres charities?

That’s a great question because I sense there is confusion amongst the public about why some organisations have charity status when their work, at first glance, doesn’t really sit naturally with the public perception of what charity is. We’re a charity under the category of ‘advancing the arts’ and our public benefit work is focused around reaching out to many different communities in the Liverpool City Region to give many their first experience of theatre, to use theatre as a conduit to really impact and transform lives, not least engaging young people and giving them a passion to pursue careers in theatre.

What do you consider to be the most important skills to have when it comes to your role in the theatres?

It’s vital to be collaborative in approach and to be able to ‘make a case for support’ and take people with you – everything is about people and relationships.

What would your advice be to people who are wanting to get involved in Development within theatres?

Do your homework. Understand the profile of audiences and the changing landscape amongst theatres and fundraising more broadly. Recognise the many transferable skills that are applicable. Be bold!

By Abbie Goodwin
Theatre and Community Intern at the Everyman & Playhouse and final year English and Drama student at Liverpool John Moores University