Clever arts sponsorship can bring business benefits
Art When businesses sponsor the arts both sides can benefit – but how can a business ensure it reaps the rewards?
Businesses are by nature about profit – so why would a business sponsor the arts?
Steven Sussman, chief executive of JM Finn & Co, a financial services company which provides personalised investment management services for private and professional investors, says: “The arts bring light and colour to our lives and lift the spirit in dark times. That's one of the reasons we decided in 2012 to support the Royal Academy of Arts. The RA is not government supported and, like all of the arts, tends to be left behind for charity funding.'
As well as bringing light into all of our lives, arts sponsorships benefit corporate sponsors, arts organisations and artists themselves.
“For the firm, there is an element of quality by association – the RA celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2018 and its work is very well respected,” says Sussman. “Our clients like to see that we are associated with that kind of history and high quality.”
The association delivers direct benefits to JM Finn & Co's clients too. The firm offers clients exclusive access to private views of RA shows, including the internationally-known RA Summer Exhibition. “At the Summer Exhibition we host up to 750 clients who get the chance to wander through the RA's spacious halls, avoiding the usual Summer Exhibition hubbub, so they can enjoy a leisurely look at the art without all the crowds,” says Sussman.
The firm is able to offer clients exclusive access and benefits, including to the internationally-known RA Summer Exhibition.
The size of the RA building means that the firm can welcome a large number of clients at once – an important consideration given that client numbers are reaching 15,000.
The event allows clients to see the scale of the firm, but also, says Sussman: “They get the chance to meet each other, and are often impressed when they do. It also allows them to meet their investment managers in a less formal environment than the office, and we can talk about something other than their investments, so we get to know each other better, further developing the client relationship.”
The RA, in return, receives sponsorship from JM Finn & Co and students from the RA Schools gain exposure to its clients who, if they purchase their work, can help them with their funding during their student years.
“We are on good terms with Eliza Bonham Carter, Curator and Head of the RA Schools, and Eileen Cooper, the Keeper of the RA, so we are able to offer students from the RA Schools the chance to exhibit in our offices,” says Sussman, an art lover himself. Competition to get into the RA Schools' three-year postgraduate course is fierce – only 17 students are admitted annually from around 600 applicants - so the standard of exhibited work is high.
“Our clients get the chance to meet some extremely talented young artists at the beginning of their careers"
The firm has mounted four exhibitions by students to which clients have been invited. “The students get the chance to talk to our clients and perhaps sell pieces,” says Sussman. “Our clients get the chance to meet some extremely talented young artists at the beginning of their careers, and perhaps to buy something that could appreciate in value in the future.”
“There is no way to work out the return monetarily, but the value of the association with a brand such as the RA is something you can instinctively feel.”
Sussman is sure that the sponsorship delivers a return on investment, though admits it is hard to calculate in monetary terms. “There is no way to work out the return monetarily but the value of the association with a brand such as the RA is something you can instinctively feel,” he says. “However, we know that the opportunity to meet clients informally at private views and exhibitions has had a positive impact on client satisfaction.”
So what has JM Finn & Co learnt from its sponsorship that could be valuable lessons for other organisations considering sponsoring the arts?
Sussman says: “The firm benefits from the association with an important national institution, and the events offer an excellent way to allow clients to meet each other – and we discovered that they liked this. When we started inviting clients to the Summer Exhibition in 2012 we initially assumed that we should make it relatively exclusive and invited only 400. They liked it, but when we increased the number to 750, we discovered they liked it even more.”
He also cautions: “The relationship needs to be long-term to get the best out of brand-association. In the five years since we started running events at the Royal Academy our events team have become more skilled and professional – and the events have become ever more successful.”
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JM Finn & Co is an investment management firm that seeks to meet the individual demands of today’s private and professional investors.
With a dedicated investment manager as the central point of contact, clients of JM Finn & Co can expect a highly personalised approach to investment management. Typically, our clients are looking to invest for the long term and see JM Finn & Co as a trusted provider of sound investment management.