Make Big Noise, by Sharon Verghis - 22nd January 2004
Sydney Morning Herald
the sponsors of the Sydney Festival had their way
you'd be consuming Beck's beer and Piazza D'Oro coffee
along with your avant-garde German theatre. You'd
pay for your tickets with American Express, and master
the salsa with the help of a Bacardi-infused cocktail.
arts festivals are big business for the big end of
town - an equation made in heaven for the festival
director, Brett Sheehy, who ensured that the key corporate
names which contributed millions to this year's coffers
were given prominent billing at the festival launch
on Thursday night.
gratitude is understandable. While sponsorship levels
for the Perth and Adelaide festivals hover around
20 to 25 per cent, the Sydney Festival continues to
attract from corporate coffers more than 45 per cent
of its annual $11 million to $12 million turnover.
by a potent mix of traditionally healthy festival
attendance figures (last year's festival attracted
more than 100,000 for ticketed events and 1.5 million
for the free events) and Sydney's summer "party
town" image, 44 official sponsors, six sources
of government and foundation support, and 37 other
smaller supporters have come on board this year, flogging
everything from boutique German beer to celebrity
general manager, Josephine Ridge, says that despite
the volatile aviation market, Malaysia Airlines signed
on for the second year, while the big end of town
remains loyal despite the weak general sponsorship
market. "The festival creates a big noise, and
that is attractive to sponsors."
fine art of selling is aggressively evident this year,
with the festival's popular Hahn Premium Festival
Bar being renamed the Beck's Festival Bar in a push
by Lion Nathan, which distributes both brands, to
promote the German beer.
meanwhile, will use its flagship Bacardi Latino Festival
in Darling Harbour to push its products to the huge
crowds expected through licensing arrangements with
nearby clubs and restaurants.
the popular "fast festival feasts" program,
restaurants such as Bistro Moncur, Otto and Salt will
go on the hunt for festival customers - "Food
and wine and the arts go very nicely together,"
Ridge laughs - while the principal sponsor, Channel
Nine, is heavily promoting everything from its 2004
line-up to a new talent search program.
is no danger of the strong corporate presence having
any impact on artistic and programming decisions,
Ridge says. Even heavily branded events, such as the
Bacardi Latino Festival, are fully owned and produced
by the festival, with sponsors limited to providing
is non-committal when asked if the festival has ruled
out ever going down the path of the Adelaide Festival,
which has been renamed after its new principal sponsor,
hasn't come up in discussions because we've had Channel
Nine as a principal sponsor for over 10 years now,
and it's something you would only offer a principal
sponsor. It's not an issue for us."
Mediaman Sponsorships, Clients and Affiliates