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The BBC's Marcia Hughes
"A puppet theatre in Bromley is just as important for business support."
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 13:39 GMT
Business sponsors boost UK arts
The Royal Academy of Arts, London
Exhibitions in the capital can cost 1m to finance
UK businesses invested more than 150m in the arts last year, with London reaping the bulk of the donations.

The capital's arts scene has flourished in recent years, with millions flocking to Tate Modern and audiences packing out the West End to see Hollywood stars such as Kathleen Turner, Kevin Spacey and Nicole Kidman.

This, plus the controversy and publicity surrounding The Turner Prize have helped make London a cool place to invest.

The danger is that every business will want to do the exclusive, smart art galleries

Colin Tweedie, chief executive of Arts and Business
Last year more than 150m was invested - proof that business sponsorship is still at the heart of the arts/business relationship and a crucial part of arts funding in the UK.

Businesses are keen to get a slice of the action - the money poured into arts sponsorship has doubled in the last five years.

London's appeal is enormous, not least because many companies are based there, and major exhibitions and productions in the capital still seem to carry the most kudos.

The Royal Academy  of Arts
Sponsorship raises business profile and impresses clients
This is of great advantage to certain galleries, with the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts costing 1m to finance.

"The money is tremendously important because for most of our exhibitions the costs of putting them on are greater than the admission income we get from the public," said the academy's David Gordon.

He added that they "try to develop a relationship with the sponsors so that there is a lot more in it for them and for us".

Capital gains

Art sponsorship is now a big business that goes well beyond just getting your name recognised.

It offers corporate hospitality opportunities and the chance to entertain and impress clients in a unique setting.

Before this year, Credit Suisse First Boston (CFSB) had never sponsored a major event before.

Although its decision to back the academy's The Genius of Rome involved an element of risk, it definitely lived up to expectations.

CFSB's John Nelson said: "I think it raises our profile, it clearly allows us to put something into the community, in this case London.

"London is already a vibrant artistic centre but in order for it to be vibrant it needs business to take an active part.

"It also allows us to provide education opportunities to schools in and around East London in the area that we operate," he added.

Support for regions

But what about the arts community outside London?

There is still a great challenge to get more businesses to sponsor the arts across the UK.

Chief executive of Arts and Business, Colin Tweedie, said is keen to spread the funding more evenly.

"The danger is that every business will want to do the exclusive, smart art galleries because Britain's Britpack is considered the sexiest new artists in the world," he said.

"I've got to get every business to understand that a small theatre company in Gateshead or a puppet theatre in Bromley is just as important for business support."

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