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Case Study

Moulding a Solid Future for Jelly in Reading

Jelly describe themselves as an energetic collaboration of artists supporting each other and the wider community; acting as a catalyst and making space for art in the everyday.

Jelly, an arts charity based in Reading, advocate for artists, improving access to the arts and strengthening the opportunities for emerging and established artists, especially those who may face barriers. Playing a strategic role in Reading’s cultural development, working to improve access to visual arts for all, they support and develop visual artists, building pathways towards careers in the creative industries and providing freelance opportunities. 

Jo Dacombe, Head of Consultancy at Art Reach, reflects on the development of our relationship: “I thoroughly enjoy working with Jelly. Their energy and strong commitment to their mission really comes through every time we meet. This is reflected in the mission statements that we developed together, thinking of Jelly as a catalyst, full of energy, making things happen.” 

Jelly was awarded National Portfolio Organisation funding from Arts Council England for 2023-2026. We‘re thrilled to say that we were a part of that success as we’ve been working with Jelly on fundraising and business planning since 2021. 

Jo explains further, “They also have a truly collaborative way of working together, valuing everybody’s contribution in the organisation. Getting to know an organisation is so important when I work as a consultant, understanding what makes them tick and the culture of working in their organisation is key to developing strategies and plans that really work for them. Jelly is unique in many ways, with immensely strong values of inclusivity, equity and environmental responsibility. For them, it’s not just about bringing in money, it’s about working ethically too, and a consultant needs to understand this to support them to achieve their mission.” 

We asked Kate Powell, Co-Creative Director at Jelly, about how the organisation has developed and what opportunities this new level of funding provides for the team and for the artists and local communities that Jelly work with:  

Jelly started in 1993, what were the original ambitions for the organisation? 

Suzanne Stallard started Jelly with a vision to provide Reading with an outlet for the arts scene that it clearly had but was not visible. The gallery was perfectly positioned to give emerging artists the opportunity to share their work and develop their practice. Something which Jelly has continued to do throughout its existence.  

We’ve been supporting Jelly with business development and fundraising for some years now, how did this work relationship initially come together?  

Initially we began to work with Art Reach around work with Reading Borough Council but specifically with Jo in early 2021 when we began to consider applying for the NPO and also needed assistance with business planning. 

How has that relationship developed since then? 

Since writing the NPO application we are pleased to be working with Jo again in our fundraising strategy.  

You were awarded funding as an NPO for the 2023-2026 round, how was the application process?

When we decided to apply to become an NPO we knew that having an outside eye, in the form of Jo Dacombe, would help us immensely. We also knew it would be a lengthy process and having someone to be accountable to was incredibly helpful. We embarked on the process knowing that it would be helpful for us as a team and an organisation regardless of the outcome.   

What is the most significant element of your activity that the NPO funding will support or create from 2023-2026? 

We are working across several areas of activity including artist development and growth of our yearly Open for Art Festival but the most significant change in organisational stability is in the form of recruitment to the team. We have grown to include a General Manager and two freelance roles – Social Media Content Creator and Fundraising Consultant.  

What is Jelly’s next big ambition? 

At the moment we are consolidating our work with underrepresented communities and thinking about building a strong foundation for Jelly’s future.  

How does working with us help you develop your approach or vision for the future?

Jo has grown to know us very well and working with her is like having an extension of our core team. We are assured that she will always work in our best interests and she understands our vision and priorities. We are grateful for the relationship.  

Jo adds: “Every relationship with a client is unique in this way. That’s why I like to work with organisations like Jelly over the long term, supporting their development from initial visioning, development planning, and finally to achieve funding success to deliver their mission. It’s inspiring and what keeps me motivated, supporting amazing creative organisations like Jelly to keep moving forward.” 

Our consultancy team is experienced in providing new strategy approaches, looking at all aspects with fresh eyes and connecting the dots! We can support your cultural organisation or creative practice with strategic development, fundraising support, cultural strategies or programme evaluation. 

Contact our Head of Consultancy, Jo Dacombe, to see how we can support your cultural ambitions and growth here: 

Photograph copyright: John Angerson 2022

Photograph copyright 2023: John Angerson.

Photograph copyright 2023: John Angerson.

Photograph copyright 2023: John Angerson.

Photograph copyright 2023: John Angerson.

Photograph copyright 2023: John Angerson.