At Gemba, something that has always interested us is the relative lack of sponsorship activity in Arts & Culture when compared to the Sport and Entertainment industries. Sure, there are sponsors of Arts & Culture, but given the consistent growth in attendance and quality of content, why hasn’t sponsorship mirrored the performance of other metrics and revenue streams?
In Sport, we have seen broadcast and sponsorship revenue achieve significant year-on-year increases across the industry, however not in Arts & Culture. A recent article by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) highlights that sponsorship has not grown in real terms since 2001. This is despite significant growth in attendances (article).
Gemba’s research highlights the popularity of the Arts & Culture industries. The Gemba Insights Program tracks 66 Sport, Arts & Culture and Entertainment passion points across the globe. In this research, we define the most passionate consumers for each of these passion points as ‘Fanatics’. The sleeping giant of our research over the last few years has been Arts & Culture, of which Museums, Plays / Theatre and Art Galleries / Exhibitions sit amongst popular Sport passion points such as Tennis, Rugby League and Football.
With the growth in attendance and passion for Arts & Culture in Australia over the past decade, we think 2019 is a big year for the Arts & Culture industry for a few reasons.
Trend against exposure
Across the sponsorship market, we are observing a significant shift. Most brands previously craved exposure, however more are now focusing on access to and ultilisation of rights holders’ Intellectual Property as a method of engaging with consumers. In 2019, if a brand wants exposure, they can purchase that anywhere – whether that be through activations, signage, digital or television spend. However, if a brand wants to truly connect with and leverage the passion of an audience, it must develop that through alignment and authentic partner integration, which can be done through utilising rights holders’ IP.
This is something the Arts & Culture industry can offer. With a core capability in creativity, there is an opportunity to work with commercial partners to achieve desired partnership outcomes, whilst not compromising artistic integrity. Each year, the annual Tropfest Film Festival has a signature item that must be included in each film. Why couldn’t an additional category be created for a sponsor inclusion? Similarly, Australian Ballet tours its productions domestically and overseas. A mutually beneficial outcome might be working with a commercial partner to tour to regions in need or conduct exclusive performances for employees.
Beyond the Elite
It’s a common misconception that Arts & Culture in Australia is for the old and elite. Gemba’s research highlights that this is a myth. Not only does the Arts & Culture audience skew towards those under 35, but it possesses a younger audience than the Sport and Entertainment industries. Further to this, the average household income of Arts & Culture Fanatics is comparable to that of Fanatics of Sport and Entertainment.
While rights holders in Arts & Culture have traditionally partnered with high-end brands, we think there is opportunity to partner with everyday brands to engage the broader audience that the industry offers.
Defined value propositions
As the Arts & Culture industry’s traditional reliance on Government funding and philanthropy tightens and becomes more competitive, there is now an increased emphasis on targeting the commercial sector. Given the relative size of the audience and the industry’s lack of sponsorship growth, we think Arts & Culture partnerships will step change in 2019 to compete for sponsorship dollars.
As has been the case with recent funding announcements, Arts & Culture rights holders are starting to clearly define and articulate their value proposition with confidence. This, coupled with increased emphasis on partner acquisition and servicing, will produce a new wave of mutually beneficial partnerships to the sector as rights holders start to better understand their potential partners’ objectives and brands start to realise the strength of the Arts & Culture industry as a potential inclusion in their sponsorship portfolio.
As brands are becoming more sophisticated and look to engage with consumers in new and exciting ways, we think the Arts & Culture industry is perfectly poised to take advantage of its unique audience. In 2019, we’re predicting the Arts & Culture sponsorship space to grow.