There is a school of thought that acknowledges that none of us is an island. This is something those of us who choose to live in smaller towns and villages, regional and remote areas know to be true, despite what might appear as wide, open spaces around us.
It is the community we are part of – both near and far – that make the difference.
These past two years have shown this to be true, as much as at any point in the past almost 140 years. Since the idea of what became Birnam Institute took roots in the mind of station-master Kinnaird in 1880, through to the revitalisation of the property that led to the opening of the new centre in 2001, it is the community – those who live near and those who visit the area – that has defined and celebrated this wonderful location.
We know that funding support for charities comes in many shapes and sizes, and our community members are not just those who live in the nearby area but many who live and work across much of Perthshire.
Over the past two years, Aberfeldy-based Macintyre Wealth Management have included Birnam Arts as a recipient of one of their 12 days of Christmas gifts. In 2020, the gift was a new ballet barre, which has gratefully been used throughout the past months through our students of all ages.
In 2021, the funding provided a new guillotine, which will be used by visiting artists with the production of zines and booklets. Staff will also have a chance to use it for things such as workshop preparation, the production of activity sheets for Beatrix Potter, as well as inhouse creation of posters for upcoming events and exhibitions.
Through the last few months of 2021, 12-year-old Rose Cave undertook an inspiring challenge to help raise funds for her much-loved Birnam Arts. Her original crowdfunding target was surpassed within weeks, so she set a stretch goal, which was passed with still weeks to go.
In the end, despite having covid herself in the early part of December, she raised more than £1200. The first £500 will be used as we reset the Visual Arts Studio for use by other aspiring and practicing artists young and old. We’ll talk with Rose to find something very specific for the balance of the funds, to thank her and all those who supported her.
In October 2020, the staff at Birnam Arts were up against the wall and we launched a Crowdfunder campaign of our own. As with Rose’s recent experience, our first target was reached quickly, so a stretch goal was set, and reached. And then another, and it was also reached. In the end, through the incredible generosity of so many doing what they could to keep their community whole, funds were raised that were put to good use through the second challenging year of the early 2020s.
While the generosity shown blew us away, the support that flows through the comments section were so incredibly humbling.
Hoping that Birnam Arts will go from strength to strength after this difficult time. You all work so hard to keep this wonderful community asset going. Thank you. Maggie Moore
Good luck with the campaign. I look forward to visiting for cake and to hopefully see a show once reopened. Sarah Louise Wilson Draper
Importantly, it is not only those who donated that we count as stars, it is all the local businesses who provided gifts for the rewards. For us, their generosity was one of the key success factors of the crowdfunding campaign, because it was a clear demonstration of the connection between us all.
The level of support shown through the campaign helped us keep going through those tough times of winter 2020 into 2021. We simply cannot thank you all enough.
If you’d like to see more of the amazing comments and the amazing rewards that were offered, you can find them at crowdfunder.co.uk/p/savebirnamarts
Choosing to run our campaign came on the back of incredible support from so many people who had shone some care on Birnam Arts since early 2020. Donations have happened in so many ways throughout the past two years, from in-kind tickets and general donations, to a personal or group fundraiser. We also received a gift of a financial legacy from the estate of someone who supported the work of Birnam Arts.
In the US, the Asheville Sister Cities group held an online Burns night to raise funds, and the United Lodge of Dunkeld donated funds towards the Auditorium house lights project. Katherine Melville ran a mile a day in her garden through May to raise funds. Misses Barrie supported work towards the Tales of Peter Rabbit, and young artists Amber and Mirren created masterpieces for a pop-up exhibition and donated half of their proceeds to Birnam Arts.
These are just some examples of the incredible generosity we know to be a main stay of our community. It is these large and small gifts that mean we are still here, because each one is an expression of care for the greater community we all belong to.
Importantly, we are incredibly thankful for the support of our funding partners, who’ve supported us throughout the past 20 years. Their regular support has allowed us to maintain and update our beautiful building and continue to offer a strong range of activities. Thank you
Through their support, we’ve been able to continue with two important goals: to expand our programming in the visual and performing arts for the people of Perthshire, and to keep Birnam Arts relevant in the competitive world of business meetings, which in turn supports our arts and community programming.
And all of this helps us plan and deliver workshops with local artists, allowing them to earn a living wage as they share their craft, while still maintaining lower prices for our local community.
It is this funding model of leaning on our business side and structuring our applications to our funding partners that allows Birnam Arts to be a funding partner as we deliver [affordable] arts programmes in the heart of Perthshire.
Finally, we are thankful for those who have found value in what Birnam Arts offers, and who continue to support us, as we deliver for our community across Perthshire.