We are pleased and excited to announce that Investec Wealth & Investment, principal sponsor of Opera Holland Park since the 2011 season have agreed to continue the relationship for a further three seasons. In due course we will announce the sponsorship in more detail.
We should put this into some context; IW&I began their support of OHP at a time when the situation in arts sponsorship had begun to change dramatically. Corporate sponsorship of the arts, despite government calls for business to step into the breach, is down 11% on recent levels and there are an awful lot of us out there looking for support. I suppose you could characterise it as a "buyer's market" which makes IW&I's decision to support Opera Holland Park even more satisfying. My own view is that sponsorships, although they are changing in their expression with the advent of social and other electronic media, must ultimately be judged by what they actually bring to the art itself and the contribution to its development that it makes. Are we a better company now than we were three years ago when the sponsorship began? Yes, and we will almost certainly be better still by 2016. It is a simple measure but a profoundly important one.
We know (or certainly should) that we have to understand and support the aims of the sponsor, that this is a business allowing us to spend its money on artistic endeavour and no amount of romantic PR prose alone is ever going to change that reality, but sponsorships do have to be dynamically concerned with and focused upon the work we present to our audience. And this one has been from the start, with IW&I devoting significant human and financial resources (above the sponsorship fee) to promoting the art form, engaging dozens of their own staff in a real way with the music, encouraging support from their clients and contributing any number of creative ideas for helping us engage with our patrons. IW&I value our brand as much as we protect and concern ourselves with theirs (the zebras have become a very popular attraction at the theatre!) and they wholeheartedly share the aims represented by our Inspire Project too, funding free tickets for our Alice's Adventures in Wonderland production for example.
Surviving in the arts world is becoming more challenging with every day and so the support of IW&I, as well as our roster of other partners and supporters, is simply critical to the fabric of cultural Britain - ever more so for companies who, like OHP, have accessibility at the heart of the enterprise. We need to accept that without them, the sort of challenging work we all want to do probably wouldn't be possible and so we should hope that as many companies as possible engage with the arts as a powerful way to develop their businesses.
Welcome on board for another three years IW&I.