The ‘business’ of supporting an arts organisation

21 April 2015

It has been common practice for the last 25 years for corporations to spread their philanthropic donations across a wide range of arts organisations but whereas in the past, the return was perhaps a guaranteed number of exclusive VIP tables at annual galas and prominent logo displays, times have changed and these days, corporate giving is more about creating visibility for the corporate donor – financial goodwill now goes hand in hand with high impact strategic business objectives.

In recent years, Private Drama has partnered regularly with organisations looking to leverage their patronage of an artistic organisation in new and surprising ways – it is no longer sufficient to simply have VIP tickets or access behind closed doors, these days our clients want to really bring their commitment connection to life and demonstrate the tangible benefits for both sides of the relationship.

Our challenge is to take the asset of this valued relationship and to create a gala event which offers not only a unique immersive experience reflective of their valued patronage but which will also leave an enduring legacy for all parties – the arts organisation, the corporate sponsor, and their invited guests.

One of our most epic endeavours for a corporate sponsor was our concept of not only lifting a world class production out of its usual artistic ‘home’ and re-producing it in an exclusive, pop up environment for one night only but also our recommendation that we should deliver this immersive experience in a in a disused multi-storey car park, thereby requiring us to design and create an exquisite, sophisticated setting appropriate for the performance itself, the cast, musicians and crew, and naturally our client’s VVIP guests!

The result was a unique, bespoke performance by The Royal Opera House of excerpts from their production of Carmen, for a private audience, in our faithful reconstruction of 19th century Seville, with all the enticing sights, sounds and smells that an evening in a Sevillian town square would have rendered back in 1820.

Instead of our client taking their guests to the production, the production came to them in an incredible, immersive setting for one night only.

Another example would be when we took the objectives and visual identity of a corporate sponsored annual arts festival and reproduced it off site, mirroring the vision and values of the partnership in the design and content of the evening, and culminating in a bespoke performance by principal performers for our client’s major stakeholders. Private Drama’s design vision encompassed the event collateral, venue styling, set design, table centres, waiting staff costumes and accessories and even the menu to subtly reflect the theme and key messages of the festival.

On other occasions, we have worked with clients to bring their arts venue hosted gala events to life – we work with the incumbent programme, often on the opening launch night, and create a concept which supports the relationship while creating a memorable environment which stimulates social interaction, with the ultimate goal of driving business results. Exhibitions we have built our bespoke immersive concepts around include Dennis Hopper’s photographic “Lost Album”, Life and Death in Pompeii, Vikings Live and Tokaido Road at venues such as the Royal Academy and the British Museum.

We have also strategically incorporated client-sponsored social enterprise and innovation programmes in the infrastructure of a gala event by facilitating the inclusion of their products and services into the guest experiences – for example, by using event crew who include a percentage of retrained ex-homeless people, or by commissioning a boutique design company specialising in the reclamation and re-use of decommissioned London Fire Brigade hoses to make napkin rings, or to offer soaps and hand creams in the bathrooms made in a factory employing people with visual impairments.

Whatever the scope of our clients’ involvement with an external artistic or social organisation, we can design an event which guarantees a guest experience which will not only tell your corporate story but which can also be strategically leveraged to alter perception of your brand, to reinforce a reputation for creativity and innovation, and to give an insight into a corporate organisation’s vision and values which look beyond their immediate four walls, the combination of which will leave a lasting impact on your guests long after the final curtain call.