Just Ask

by Susan Winters, Volunteer Supervisor


This past winter, The Works was selected to participate in artsVest, a Canadian training program that connects arts organizations with local business. This training consists of online modules, webinars, peer-to-peer discussions and mentorship sessions with experienced arts administrators. Apart from expanding my sponsorship vocabulary and refining my pitching strategy, the biggest lesson I take from artsVest training is to ask for exactly what you want. Ask specifically and realistically. Without such epiphany, I would have never had the guts to ask longtime volunteer department supporters, Cookies By George, to sign onto a 3-year sponsorship contract. They gladly agreed to it and now we’ve secured a 3-year supply of cookies for our deserving volunteers. However, this deal has little to do with my strategic pitching and far more to do with the generosity of this sweet business.

I used to perceive dissonance between the arts and business. There’s something uncouth about the logo soup found on the backs of programs, on the footers of webpages and embedded in our favorite organizations’ letterhead. Marketing seems like a trick and the act of “cultivating a sponsor” seems morbid.

Through artsVest we’ve been prepped to speak to the needs of a business’s marketing strategy. But the businesses that support the volunteer department seldom care about the return on their investment. When we reach out for support, it’s members of the community that reach back with generosity and we’re eager to thank them with whatever we can offer, even if it’s just the logo on the footer of our webpage.  

Susan Winters is a writer based in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2017, she was selected to participate in the National Screen Institute’s Features First program. Her writing can be found in literary magazines such as Canthius Journal, This Side of West and (parenthetical). In 2016 she was twice shortlisted for PRISM international’s poetry contest, and placed second in the Blodwyn Memorial Prize for poetry. She won Best Screenplay through the Reel Shorts Film Festival with script Little Thailand in 2014, which she directed in 2015. In addition to holding a degree in Screenwriting from the University of Victoria, she is a Fine Art graduate of Grant MacEwan University