What is Kettle all about?
The Kettle Partnership helps small to medium cultural organisations share ways of working – locally, nationally and internationally. The partnership’s focus is on importing and exporting clever ways of building audiences. The question Kettle asks about each project is: where else could this work?
Founding partner Leah Whittingham says: “Someone in a gallery considering their charging policies goes through the same process whether they are based in Penge or Adelaide. They don’t need to start from scratch. We encourage more sharing in the cultural sector, something which happens surprisingly rarely. Products are shared, yes. But not research, evaluation and the process organisations go through. That’s where we come in.”
Kettle Partnership helps cultural organisations make strong cases to funders, supporters and audiences by:
- Research: what is current thinking, where does the organisation fit in to the policy framework? How are others developing their audiences?
- Strategy: looking at the opportunities, working out how can organisations can build their audiences and extend networks.
- Implementation: helping organisations forge new partnerships, providing advice on how to reach specific audiences.
Founding partner Tom Bolton says: “We are experienced in working with partners who have different backgrounds and objectives, and working out joint projects that will help everyone.”
How did Kettle start?
Kettle founders Leah Whittingham, Tom Bolton and Kate Barnard-Wills had all worked together on Living Places – a national advocacy programme that focused on the necessity of a cultural infrastructure in new regeneration. They witnessed first-hand the effects of funding cuts in the public sector. Leah says: “Small to medium sized organisations have less and less access to funding. The Arts Council England role of disseminating advice to the sector has been greatly diminished. Where do people go for advice? How can you write a good funding application, if you don’t know what other people in the sector are doing?”
Leah, Tom and Kate had seen that while established, larger organisations have the capacity to link up with a wide range of partners and share knowledge, smaller organisations miss out – making them less equipped to cope with the effects of the funding cuts. They were interested in developing projects that focus on locality, community and how arts can bring different generations and cultures together. And they wanted to work together again. So they founded a social enterprise- the Kettle Partnership – to help smaller organisations find funding, engage wider audiences and extend networks. Kate says: “A group of people with knowledge of the national cultural context, formed as a social enterprise, could support smaller arts and cultural organisations that do not possess this knowledge in-house.”
Any small to medium sized cultural organisation can benefit from working with Kettle – whether it’s an amateur dramatic society, local gallery, library reading circle or a cinema. What those organisations have in common is they have an audience they’re trying to reach. Kate explains: “Our typical client is an overworked arts manager who doesn’t have the time to figure out where their organisation is positioned and how to make the best of it. It doesn’t make sense for these people to have to reinvent the wheel over and over again, and they shouldn’t have to.”
Tom adds: “It is impossible to miss the impact of funding cuts on the arts and the public sector as a whole. The organisation I worked for when we founded Kettle was abolished as part of the cuts programme, and favourite venues near where I live have closed. However, it is essential that arts organisations become adept at helping themselves and each other, and there is plenty of evidence that they can do that. That’s why Kettle’s work is so relevant to the issues many organisations are grappling with.”
In 2013 Bridget Hargreaves started working as a freelancer on Kettle Partnership projects such as Brixton Live. Bridget is a communications consultant and writer. She has worked in communications for over 15 years, starting with roles in the House of Commons and Defra press office, before moving into consultancy. She has expertise across media relations, public affairs, stakeholder communications and social media strategy and had previously worked with all 3 Kettle Partners on the Living Places Programme.
Bridget became a Kettle Director in 2016 and founding partner, Kate Barnard-Wills stood down as an active director and took a consultative role in the organisation.
You can find out more about Kettle projects past and present here.
If you are interested in working with Kettle on a project, please get in touch.