Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Melbourne Fringe

ProjectOPTIMUS: Small-to-medium organisations data management initiative



ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

This grant was approved under previous grants policy
Building organisational capacity Building the sector’s capacity to earn income through better stakeholder management, as well as increased efficiency.
Extending opportunity Building capacity to grow audience participation and customise communications will enable targeted strategies to support CALD, deaf, disabled and Indigenous audiences.
Collaboration and partnership Creative Partnerships Australia, Creative Victoria and various SME arts organisations located in Victoria

Small-to-medium arts organisations collaborated to build their future sustainability

Melbourne Fringe led a consortium of Victorian arts organisations exploring if a common infrastructure could increase collaboration, sharing the burden of development, creating economies of scale, and building their capacity to increase earned income over time.


  • Effective data management and stakeholder communications underpins an essential principle in fundraising. With reduced government funding for the arts and pushes to increase earned income, small-to-medium organisations must develop sophisticated data management systems, despite cripplingly small resources.
  • Two consultants were engaged to undertake a comprehensive survey of the existing research in the field and to identify the different software and service providers, culminating in a detailed business model for implementation of the project including: recommendations of software packages; a detailed financial analysis of set-up and ongoing costs; and an outline of key implementation issues.
  • The research produced some unexpected results revealing that there was no single system that would meet the different needs of all the organisations. In particular, it found there to be no substantial advantages in a consortium approach. However, there are potential models for how organisations can work together in “communities of interest”, which can enable small to medium organisations to share knowledge, skills, training and resources.
  • You can read the Final Report for Optimus: Shared event ticketing and CRM System
  • This project is an excellent example of partnership and collaboration, not just with the project partners but amongst the funding partners. Creative Victoria and HMSTrust each contributed matched funding of $7,500 and the consortium of arts organisations contributed $15,000 for the initial scoping and feasibility study which took place in 2016.


"The report finds there is huge potential to improve business systems within the sector. This in turn will lead to significant efficiencies, increased income generation and improved collection of sector wide data. This allows the possibility for more resources to be channelled towards artists and the vital work they create." David Everist and Imbi Neeme.