18/06/2014 - 12:57

Corporate buy-in buoys WASO

18/06/2014 - 12:57


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The state’s symphony orchestra was an “obvious” choice for sponsorship, according to a leading mining services provider.

Corporate buy-in buoys WASO
STRATEGY: Craig Whitehead says the arts are benefiting from increasingly sophisticated corporate giving strategies. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state’s symphony orchestra was an “obvious” choice for sponsorship, according to a leading mining services provider.

A new partnership between the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and mining services provider MACA is evidence of a growing creativity in local companies’ sponsorship strategies.

In its first sponsorship of an arts organisation, MACA will contribute $300,000 over three years to boost WASO’s revenue.

The company has traditionally held a strong focus on health-related causes, including a $750,000, three-year sponsorship of the Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer.

In addition, MACA raised the most of any corporate team for the 2013 ride, with $1.2 million contributed.

Executive director Geoff Baker said MACA wanted to expand its community investment strategy and made a conscious decision to invest in the arts.

“WASO was the obvious choice,” Mr Baker told Business News.

WASO chief executive Craig Whitehead said MACA’s decision to branch out into arts-focused sponsorship was part of a move by Western Australian businesses towards establishing more sophisticated sponsorships.

“I think the days of ‘we’ll just get a box at the footy’ or just sponsoring one aspect of the community have changed and I think there is a growing involvement in trying to broaden corporate sponsorship strategies,” he said.

Mr Whitehead said sponsors indicated that tickets to arts-based performances were becoming more attractive than football tickets because it appealed to both men and women.

He said the MACA partnership and positive conversations with other corporate sponsors had provided confidence the orchestra would grow its sponsorship revenue in 2014, despite some stepping away amid difficult trading conditions.

“What we’ve been able to do in the past, and I’m sure what we’ll be able to do in the next year or two, is talk to those sponsors and increase their levels back to where they were or bring them back on board,” Mr Whitehead said.

Slightly more than 20 per cent of WASO’s $17.8 million revenue came from sponsorship and donations in 2013 – amounting to $3.6 million.

The orchestra also relies heavily on the government support, as more than half of its revenue typically comes from state and federal government funding.

Mr Whitehead told Business News such funding had fallen in real terms, which would put the orchestra under pressure in the future if it continued.

WASO has an obligation to provide the WA Opera and WA Ballet with musicians for four months of the year, which Mr Whitehead said limited its ability to grow revenue through streams such as subscriptions and box office sales.

To address this and other issues, he said, the government needed to reconsider its level of support.

“We’re not in crisis mode … we’re certainly going to deliver a strong surplus in 2014, but we just wanted to start the conversation before it becomes a major issue,” Mr Whitehead said.


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