Letters: The cost of sponsorship

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader on the Millennium festival (17 May) talked of the failure of our business and political leaders to work together in the name of communal purpose.

As the national association promoting the alliance between business, society and the arts, we believe in public and private sectors as partners in the common good. But the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts (ABSA) has consistently argued that the private sector is being expected to play too large a role in the partnership funding requirements set down by the various National Lottery distribution bodies.

ABSA saw sponsorship rise in 1994-95 by 19 per cent to pounds 18m; the Exhibition requires at least half of that again from the private sector. The danger is that, if business is interested, it will not increase total budgets, but transfer funds from one worthy project to another, creating a shortfall somewhere else.

We should be calling for a Royal Commission to examine where we go from here. Unless we take a step back and debate the issues we need to address, we shall be forever doomed to focus on the narrow question as to who pays the bill, or to put it more crudely, we will know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

COLIN TWEEDY

Director General

Association for Business

Sponsorship of the Arts

London SE1

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