After the global financial crisis of 2008, the membership-supported Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts (TBBCA) was on the brink of closing its doors. Since 1989, the nonprofit organization and first Florida affiliate of the National Business Committee for the Arts had been largely funded by corporate memberships. After the economic downturn, companies made many changes with marketing budgets that did not allow for such corporate memberships and the two-person staffed TBBCA was faced with making some drastic changes in funding and promotion.
In 2009, TBBCA courted Pitch Publicity to help assist, in a pro bono capacity, the production of its annual awards dinner and to direct a first-time fundraising event at the same function to raise much needed operating and project funds. For the next five years, Pitch Publicity produced and directed the TBBCA Annual Impact Awards Gala combined with a fundraising event as they transitioned from a membership-funded organization to a program-focused organization, uniting area businesses as champions of arts and culture. From the first fundraising event in 2009, to the fifth fundraising event in 2013, Pitch Publicity was able to increase the organization’s contributions by more than 200 percent.
Another public relations obstacle TBBCA had to overcome, that directly affected the fundraising component, was communicating its purpose and mission in the community and to area businesses. The organization had a reputable history in the community as an outgrowth organization of the Cultural Affairs Council of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and nationally as the first Florida affiliate of the National Business Committee for the Arts, established by David Rockefeller in 1967. But in 2008, Americans for the Arts absorbed National Business Committee for the Arts and the following year TBBCA changed its name from Tampa Bay Business Committee for the Arts to Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts. The timing of these changes with the 2008 financial crisis made it difficult for TBBCA to retain members. Pitch Publicity worked with TBBCA to modernize its corporate position, which included an update on its mission, vision and corporate messaging. The organization had not gone through any formal corporate positioning update since its inception. Research involved pulling hard copy files of typed board notes from 1989-1993, to uncover the historical roots of the organization and make sure the core messaging did not deviate too far from TBBCA’s original mission. Pitch Publicity worked in concert with local Tampa advertising agency, ChappelRoberts to develop a new brand filter book for TBBCA, which included TBBCA’s corporate position, identity and messaging.
During the planning of the TBBCA’s 2013 Impact Awards Gala and fundraiser, the organization’s president and Tampa Bay’s beloved advocate of the arts, Charlie Hounchell passed away unexpectedly. Hounchell was not only very instrumental to the TBBCA as chairman of the board and president but also to the Tampa Bay community at large, sitting on more than half a dozen nonprofit boards that advocated rights for domestic violence victims, the arts, civil rights and equality. Mid-planning on the TBBCA event had to take a drastic turn in order to honor the work Hounchell had done for the TBBCA, while still honoring businesses with Impact Awards and maintaining the fundraising component. The result was the most successful TBBCA awards and fundraising event to date, and most importantly Hounchell was honored for a major program he started with the TBBCA to provide scholarship money to high school graduates pursuing careers in the arts. In acknowledgement of his work, the scholarship program was renamed and presented at the 2013 gala as The Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarship. Pitch Publicity wrote and directed a video and worked with Company Man Studios to produce a tribute to Hounchell that featured many of his friends including New York Times bestselling author, Michael Connelly.