Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford is one of Britain’s leading contemporary galleries and has a reputation for ground-breaking exhibitions. All exhibitions and many of their events, activities and workshops are free to visitors and they are funded through the Arts Council of England, Oxford City Council and exhibition sponsorship. Contemporary arts audiences visit MAO from all over the world and, in some ways, MAO is better known internationally than in its home city.


The Brief

Modern Art Oxford (MAO) saw the potential to build on its great history and role at the cutting edge of the visual arts in the UK but realised there was a mismatch between the artistic space needed and the building it occupied. Parts of the building were damaged with age, disability access was inadequate and poor insulation was causing fluctuations in humidity and temperature. MAO knew it needed to be upgraded and brought in line with other organisations with a similar profile. We were therefore asked to scope the potential of a new international home for contemporary art that would bring teaching and exhibitions together in the centre of Oxford in partnership with the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford.

To help the Board of Trustees decide how to proceed we undertook a detailed study compiled through discussions with donors both known and unknown to the Gallery.

Our response

We undertook a consultation with donors and other key stakeholders on the three options for capital development. Based on the findings, we presented recommendations that supported SMT and Council of Management decisions on the best option to take. Working with board members and staff, we created a detailed strategy for a capital campaign including a gift table, a prospect research strategy and scoping an ideal development board. We did hands-on fundraising that included in-depth prospect research as well as writing and submitting applications to trusts and the Arts Council. We provided mentoring and coaching to board members and staff.


“The Philanthropy Company undertook a feasibility study for a capital campaign for Modern Art Oxford. This has helped us to clarify our strategic direction and, most importantly, engage donors in our plans. The report proved invaluable in developing our strategic approach and represented excellent value for money. Trustees found The Philanthropy Company’s thoughtful and realistic approach to what the gallery could achieve extremely valuable. I would wholeheartedly recommend them to other organisations in need of similar advice.”

David Isaac, Former Chairman of Trustees

Modern Art Oxford website