Like any good detective fiction, you can often trace back a conclusion to a key piece of evidence that might have been dismissed or overlooked.
The announcement that the MAN Group, a US Hedge Fund is to end it’s 17-year association with the Booker Prize is a real blow to literary sponsorship but perhaps it was sealed at last year’s awards.
Responding indirectly to criticism of the sponsor by author Sebastian Faulks, MAN Group CEO Luke Ellis said that “His comments . . . come at a time when the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding. Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out.”
There is always going to be something of a conflict between the commercial needs and aspirations of a sponsor and the artistic integrity of those they are supporting.
In a world though where associations to events, activities and different rights holders are rarely in short supply, making sure that a sponsor is comfortable in the role is an essential part of the stakeholder relations of any arts or ebtertainment organisation.
Bigger companies have bigger budgets and a greater capacity to inflate the capacity of an organisation to reach a greater number of people.
There are those who argue that any society with a sense of responsibility should support the arts from the public purse and that commercial sponsorship is in some way to be frowned upon.
We would naturally beg to differ, as would many of those who are in the business of providing a platform and a stage for artists.
The Booker prize Foundation is understood to be in negotiation with a potential new sponsor for 2020.
In Ireland our own Irish Book Awards transitioned from Bord Gais Energy to an Post in 2018 and went from one supportive organisation adding to the event to another.
It is entirely possible to make commercial sponsorship work in the arts and enteratianment. It may never be an argument that is fully accepted from within but it is often the fuel that brings great entertainment to life.
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