Finding backing for the arts

Corporate sponsorship now provides the sector with more than half of its revenue. And to date 94% of partnership funding for the Millennium Commission projects has been secured. As big corporate players look to link their name and products to art companies and events that will bring them the ‘right’ profile, cash-strapped arts community can look to a revenue source generated through its own efforts.

Corporate investment in the arts, which includes corporate membership and donations as well as sponsorship, is now valued by the Arts and Business Group at £141m per year – up 23% against the previous year – and compared to £57.1m at the beginning of the 1990s.

And the once cosy world of arts finance and fundraising has over the last decade transformed into a crowded marketplace chasing £70m worth of corporate sponsorships deals.

‘It’s a competitive marketplace for corporate sponsorship and the arts community is in competition with the sports and media sponsorship,’ says John Nicholls, director of development at Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s South Bank.

Tough job

Nicholls says raising money for the arts has always been difficult, but now arts operations need to offer potential clients a value package that goes beyond just a name on a programme.

‘Sponsors are looking for brand alliances,’ Nicholls says.

Shakespeare’s Globe is an example of a modern breed of arts operation.

‘We’re run by a group of London business people and the notion of subsidy is not in our psyche,’ says Nicholls.

The Globe has already raised £30m to build the Globe centre and exhibition area, and has to raise a further £10m. The fundraising operation Nicholls heads up is global, with a strong presence in US. Big sponsors include Ford Motor Company and Panasonic, who are currently tied to the 2000 season.

‘Ford is an example of how courting our Anglo-American links in the States has paid off,’ he says. ‘They have transferred from sponsoring our capital programme work to becoming a prime theatre season sponsor.’

City opera sponsorship

Lara Jukes, head of sponsorship at the Royal Opera House, admits high-profile organisations like the opera benefit from a traditional support from the City. Corporate sponsorship represents 55% of the opera’s revenue and membership can cost from £5,000 to £30,000 a year and around £15,000 to sponsor a ballet night or £20,000 an opera performance. ‘Most come as members and then start to take an interest in evening sponsorships or education programmes.’

BP Amoco struck up three-year £270,000 deal to fund the company’s live relay of operas into the Covent Garden piazza.

Emma Davidson, head of development at Sadler’s Wells, says finding corporate sponsors for smaller organisations is about finding the right partner.

‘It doesn’t happen overnight, she says. ‘We can’t compete with sectors such as sport, but we are offering a potential sponsor a link to something dynamic.’

Nicholls adds: ‘Corporate sponsorship and links with the business sector is the way forward for arts fundraising.’


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