Magazine article Marketing

State of the Arts

Magazine article Marketing

State of the Arts

Article excerpt

Competition arts sponsorship is fiercer than ever, following the news that government funding may be cut by a further [pounds]3.2m

After a summer of record-breaking sports sponsorship deals you could be forgiven for wondering what happened to sponsorship of the arts. Has this year's festival of sport left the arts struggling for its slice of the sponsorship cake?

"Arts sponsorship isn't suffering but it does face increasing competition," says Chris Crowcroft, managing partner of Crowcroft & Partners, an agency which finds arts projects on behalf of sponsors.

"It began competing with sports when companies who were interested in the general public wanted a corporate profile. Now we associate brand names with sports and corporate branding with the arts."

Were it not for the National Lottery the prognosis for the arts could well be bleaker. It has raised piles of cash for the arts and, thanks to the system by which it operates, has created new demand for arts sponsors.

Every year the National Lottery donates 28% of its funds to five good causes which include the Arts Council. In turn, the Arts Lottery. Board divides the money between the four regional Arts Councils.

To qualify for funding arts groups must meet strict criteria including financial stability and their benefit to the public. Applicants must raise 10% partner funding from a sponsor if they are applying for up to [pounds]100,000 and 25% above that. The Arts Council says 631 applications were for up to [pounds]100,000 and 68 projects were for over [pounds]1m.

"Arts sponsorship is still on the up but the National Lottery has created a larger demand for sponsorship than ever before," says Colin Tweedy, director general of the Association of Business Sponsorship of the Arts (ABSA). It has created new demand, which could become permanent, and has distorted the whole market."

Sponsorship is up by 19% to [pounds]84m in 1994/5 from the previous year, but with the Millennium project short of [pounds]300m and new arts organisations starting up, there is still a shortage of cash.

The impact of the National Lottery is illustrated by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on London's South Bank. It received [pounds] 12.4m from lottery funds, having scraped by on just [pounds]8m between 1972 and 1993. "This pays for everything above ground," says Elizabeth Herbert, head of the appeal for the Shakespeare Globe Trust. A 1400-square metre underground exhibition, to be opened in 1999, will cost another [pounds]6.5m.

To supplement the [pounds]500,000 a year the trust receives from donors in the US, it offers corporate hospitality, with a three-year licence for a room from summer 1997.

Herbert says: "We had to establish credibility because people thought it was a pipe dream and didn't want to invest in us up to three years ago. Now people think we have all we need." The [pounds]30m project has received no government money and aims to be self-sufficient when complete.

The arts lottery fund may encourage expensive new projects over those with high day-to-day running costs. Grants may only be used for capital expenditures where there are tangible assets at the end.

The Ondine Ensemble is a London-based chamber music group specialising in classical music from 1890 to contemporary. Its members are freelance professional players from the London Symphony and English Chamber orchestras and teachers from music colleges. It performs at schools in and around London.

It received money from the London Borough Grants Unit and one of the London Arts Boards, a regional office of the Arts Council, but finds corporate sponsorship difficult to attract.

"We have not applied for the arts lottery scheme because we need revenue funding to support the daily running costs of the ensemble," says Marianne Erhardt, founder artistic director of the group. "We hope to be the first to apply for the new lottery programme in November. …

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