Giddy Up NZ: Overcoming funding challenges

Considering sponsorship to get your creative project off the ground? Check out Giddy Up: sharing helpful insights to establish successful relationships between project owners and corporate sponsors.


Finding funding. It’s an ongoing challenge for every Big Idea.

Brian Steele, Executive Director of Shoreline Partners, a boutique advisory firm for digital and creative companies, has recently launched Giddy Up NZ, an online resource aimed at providing inspiration and ideas to help with that funding challenge.

An active sponsor of Circa Theatre for the past 13 years, Brian prefers to use the term ‘sponsor’ over godly words like patron or benefactor because he says, “It’s not just a gift, it’s a relationship and they look after me and my brand in return.” He described how through philanthopy he has created additional communities that he ordinarily wouldn’t be included in. Also on the NZ Book Council, Wellington Collegians Cricket board, and involved with iwi group Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Brian said, “I feel very priviledged to have these New Zealand experiences.”

When he was in his mid-thirties, Brian said he felt inclined to sponsor something and was in a position to do so. With an interest in theatre, he met with several theatre companies in Wellington to explore opportunities and find a match that was aligned with his brand and values. “I thought at the time there were a lot of people like me, but there’s not.”

His goal with Giddy Up is to encourage corporates and businesses to sponsor community arts, sports and other activities. He also wants to help people running performance arts events become more confident in their engagement with businesses.

One of the biggest problems facing organisers of events and activities, Brian said, is they often don’t know how, or who to approach for funding. Likewise, businesses are looking to use their marketing budgets more creatively to entertain and engage with potential customers. “It’s getting harder to get money from corporates, so we need to find different ways of approaching people.”

At this point, Brian said Giddy Up is an online resource, not an agency. The website aims to provide how-to examples for bringing great arts and events to life that develop long-lasting relationships with businesses that support and grow with them.

The website offers helpful editorial and profiles of artists, corporates, and connectors (like The Arts Foundation). “At this stage, we’re trying to showcase people who have done this well but in the future, we may synthesise the 5 – 10 things that successful relationships have in common to help with collective learning,” Brian said. One of the successful partnerships highlighted on the site includes that of Flick Electric and The NZ Comedy Festival.

Brian is optimistic about the scope of Giddy Up, saying he expects to see more brands seize the opportunity to build emotional connections with their customers. “Although we’ve started with the Arts, we think it’s much broader than that. People are also passionate about other things — from music to art to cooking and sports.”

To find out more and sign up for monthly updates from Giddy Up, visit

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