ESA Arts Sponsorship Certificate - Q&A with Course Director Peter Raymond

ESA Arts Sponsorship Certificate - Q&A with Course Director Peter Raymond

Peter Raymond, the Course Director of the ESA Diploma and ESA Arts Certificate, discusses his favourite arts sponsorship campaigns, how to become a successful arts marketer and why the two courses will be combined for the first time in 2020.

Tell us more about ESA Arts Sponsorship Certificate

The Arts Certificate is the industry’s only formal training course for those wishing to practice in private fundraising via sponsorship in the arts and culture sector.  It has been in existence for 3 years and was created via a collaboration between ESA and Cause 4 (endorsed via Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy) as a result of the low number of candidates from the arts enrolling for ESA’s highly regarded Diploma.  It is a distance learning course using detailed and contemporary study notes with an assessment process and a live learning seminar programme provided by industry experts.  Geography is irrelevant as the course involves digitally-enhanced learning and the tutors place great emphasis on human interaction involving speedy response times and tutorials to reinforce learning and instil confidence.  Head here for more details.

I gather there’s a new structure to the 2020 course?

You’re right!  We’ve made a very exciting and significant change to the course structure.  For the first time the Certificate will be staged alongside the ESA Diploma, the sponsorship industry’s premier and much-revered qualification.  This will enable a more immersive and valuable experiencefor the Certificate students, sharing content and learnings with students from different and complementary parts of the industry, an opportunity which is rare for arts professionals.

Combining the Certificate with the Diploma enables candidates to take part in the only qualification of its kind, focusing on best-practice arts and cultural sponsorship, while gaining invaluable exposure to Europe’s flagship sponsorship qualification.

The 2020 course starts on Friday 17 January, running for four months. This will allow students to share some aspects of the renowned ESA Diploma experience, while studying their own arts-based syllabus.

Why is the course important?

The Certificate is the only course of its kind in our industry and is aimed at all organisations that wish to seek commercial relationships to boost funding.  With cuts in revenue being a constant pressure, securing commercial funding is an ever-increasing imperative.  The Certificate provides the antidote.  By the end of the course all candidates will be able to write a compelling sponsorship strategy and proposal which will greatly increase the chances of their organisations being able to secure much-needed commercial revenue.  They will also be able to converse with colleagues and potential partners with much greater confidence and knowledge on all issues relating to partnership development.  In addition, anyone qualifying for the Certificate will have achieved a significant benchmark in their personal development as this qualification is increasingly highly regarded within the sector.

What are the demands on sponsorship within the Arts?

Sponsorship as a discipline is under pressure to fill the gap that is increasingly being left by cutbacks from the public purse.  It has to prove its worth as a viable means of providing mutual benefit in the marketing process, thus enabling the formation of a profitable partnership.  Where the Arts is struggling is in its ability to confidently identify the true worth of its assets in the commercial process.  This is affecting its ability to fulfil its true potential in this highly accessible marketplace which has enormous commercial potential.     

What makes arts sponsorship different from other forms of sponsorship?

Simple answer, if a slight generalisation.  Essentially the target market which tends to be slightly more aspirational, cultured and creatively driven than the norm.  Corporate sponsors that become partners of the arts are also looking to set themselves apart from their competitors by doing something more meaningful and imaginative.  Arts sponsorship also provides more interactive and inspirational opportunities for employee engagement as well as emphasising a sense of responsibility and purpose than many other forms of sponsorship.

Corporate sponsors that become partners of the arts are also looking to set themselves apart from their competitors by doing something more meaningful and imaginative.

Peter Raymond

Do you feel the arts and cultural sector is more receptive to the possibilities of corporate sponsorship as a form of income generation?

No. Sadly sponsorship still seems to be greeted with suspicion in the arts.  Some organisations still fear that their editorial integrity will be affected, while some others (generally smaller organisations) find the prospect of seeking partners to be daunting and time consuming.

What are the skills needed to become an expert in corporate sponsorship?

I always think that marketing is common sense!  Maybe I’m simplifying things but directing messages to the people most likely to buy your products doesn’t require further explanation.  As far as sponsorship is concerned it is a specialist discipline but it is also founded on some obvious principles.  But beyond just logical thinking, a sponsorship practitioner needs to be agile, logical, resourceful, analytical and creative.  Needless to say, anyone with basic marketing experience who wants to understand the principles and disciplines that make up successful sponsorship campaigns should undertake specific training.  No better place to start than the Certificate!

What are your top tips for someone going into sponsorship?

  1. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer
  2. Never ever give up
  3. Listen
  4. Be open to change
  5. The more creativity you can apply to the process the more likely you are to succeed

What do you think the future of arts sponsorship looks like?

Despite things being tough I believe that sponsorship is the future for arts and culture.  I believe that every arts organisation has saleable assets and can attract commercial partnership revenue.  I also believe that, as more societal responsibility is demanded from our corporations, the arts can fill this requirement.  It is often the bridge into communities and also a conduit for the transformation of young people.  I am hopeful that a major breakthough is close at hand and it only requires one brave company to do a ground-breaking deal that will precipitate a dramatic shift.   

What is your favourite art sponsorship campaign?

Such a big question so please excuse me if I mention a few.  As I spent a lot of my formative years working on promotions I always think that the best campaigns should have a promotional element attached, if only because this adds a sales-led benefit as an outcome.  I say this slightly red-faced because it’s very close to home for me, but Orange Wednesdays, still to this day, takes some beating.  I also love campaigns that offer serious levels of employee engagement so I’ve always loved The Old Vic’s partnership with PwC, where staff not only undertook personal development training at the theatre but also staged their own play.  I also love prizes as they are associated with excellence and reflect well on sponsors.  So, I love the Deutsche Bank Art Prize for Schools which annually attracts over 20,000 entries.  For sheer audacity and originality, I also love the partnership between Scotland’s Check It Scaffold Services and the Scottish Ballet which is only a small arrangement but shows that value of thinking outside the box. 

Click here for more details on the 2020 Arts Sponsorship Certificate.