Cultivating Partnerships at the V&A

June, 26, 2017

Laura Sears, Head of Corporate Partnerships at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is set to take the stage at Culture Business Melbourne, 26-28 July 2017.

Get an insight into her talk as she unveils her best tips in successfully attracting and nurturing arts partnerships with big brands. Discover the full story at during her keynote “The pros and cons of arts partnerships with global luxury and consumer brands“at Culture Business Melbourne.

How does the V&A start a conversation with a potential partner? 

There is no single strategy for approaching potential partners. We do a lot of research before approaching anyone- particularly companies that are new to us. We also make sure we know the project in as much depth as possible and think through the surrounding opportunities for activation which could be relevant to each prospect. Then, we pick up the phone…!


Based on your experience working with corporate partnerships, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? 

In the past I have inherited partnership situations where sponsors have been ‘oversold’ an opportunity and have expectations of creative input beyond anything the arts organisation could allow.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I overcame these challenges completely but it has made honesty and working through as much detail as possible at an early stage with sponsors central to my approach to negotiations.


The V&A brands itself as the world’s leading museum of art and design. To what extent have corporate partnerships played a part in the making of this brand? 

The V&A has become well known for securing some great brand matches for its exhibitions programme- Bulgari and The Glamour of Italian Fashion, Levi’s and You Say You Want a Revolution?, and Plywood.

These associations with well known and relevant  brands undoubtedly add value beyond the financial investment made- expanding the V&A audience, driving media interest and building complementary communications and learning programmes in collaboration with the Museum.


Building a partnership with a global brand can be a daunting project for small cultural institutions. What would be your main advice for these organisations as they take on this challenge? 

Have confidence in what you do and what you have to offer them!