Are you an AMA member? please login
15th August 2018 Amy Firth

Tips for Developing Small Organisations

Photo by from Pexels

As part of #SmallOrgAug, we’ve been collecting the learning from some of our past delegates from our Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP) to share with you.


AMA has been running SSDP as part of the CultureHive programme, with support from Arts Council England, for a number of years, helping small organisations carve out time for some intensive business development and planning. We know it can be hard to make that time, but we hear so often the difference that making time can make. We’ve collected some of the learning and top tips from past delegates, and paired them with some resources to help others working in small organisations. (Some of the resources below are member-only – if you’re not a member, check out our Small Organisation membership and see what we could do for you.)


Tip 1) “Work differently by looking at long-term gain over short-term funding wins”

Rachael Perrin, Director, Soundcastle – read about her SSDP experience here

Getting the business model right means that even when funding is necessarily short-term, you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture – and you help ensure the continued sustainability and resilience of your organisations. This video explores a typical starting point for the business model of many arts and cultural organisations and helps you plan how you might need to change and adapt in the future.

Business models in the arts and cultural sector


Tip 2) “Marketing is the end product of vision and mission”

Christine Davis, Centre Manager, The Architecture Centre, Bristol – read about her SSDP experience here

The vision sets the direction for the organisation, and the mission takes you there: once you have clarity on this, your marketing can be more focused and effective, allowing you to make the best use of time and resource. This article from AMA’s member magazine JAM sets out some pointers on how to get this right:



Tip 3) “Define our strengths and distinctive identity”

Harriet Warnock, General Manager, Collective Encounters – read about her SSDP experience here

Your vision should make it clear what it is that makes your organisation distinctive. Building on this to inform marketing activity helps make more compelling connections. In this blog-post, Rachel Miller of Avant Cymru reflects on how identifying their USP and what made them distinctive helped them connect with their audiences.


#CultureHive SmallScale Arts Council of Wales bursary recipient


Tip 4: “Use [SWOT and TOWS] tools to test ideas and create a shared sense of direction”

Julie Gaskell-Johnson, Chief Executive, West Yorkshire Print Workshop – read about her SSDP experience here

SWOT and TOWS strategy sets provide a useful framework to help you develop, plan and inform different elements of your marketing and audience development strategies. They’re a good starting point when you’re looking to figure out key decisions.

SWOT | TOWS | Strategy Sets


The AMA is a Sector Support Organisation appointed by Arts Council England, who subsidise the Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP). SSDP is an AMA CultureHive programme that runs twice a year for £95+VAT for 3 days intensive training. For more details visit our Events page.