Sponsorship of over €8.5 million by drinks companies for arts and cultural events under threat – ABFI

New proposals to restrict advertising and sponsorship will decrease the volume and value of cultural sponsorship by drinks companies, putting these partnerships and local cultural events around the country in jeopardy, according to Alcohol Beverage Federation Ireland (ABFI).

Commenting on the impact of the proposals, Director of ABFI Patricia Callan said, “The drinks industry provides almost €8.5 million in sponsorship to over 50 arts and cultural events around the country which is essential to their viability and sustainability. Almost €6 in every €10 of the wider spend in this space is spent on activity in the greater Dublin area, the remainder is invested in regionally based activities. In addition to their immense contribution to Irish cultural life, festivals and cultural events have multiple economic dividends including job creation, tourism, regional development in addition to enhancing Ireland’s reputation abroad”.

“The reality is the punitive new advertising restrictions proposed in the Public Health Alcohol Bill (PHAB) would effectively mean a ban on sponsorship by decreasing the volume and value of sponsorship partnerships for drinks companies. The severity of the content restrictions means that that images of conviviality (such as a scene in an Irish pub), images of a person consuming alcohol or indeed images of people will be banned. It’s hard to fathom but it will mean the banning of the iconic Guinness Christmas advert”.

“Advertising is a crucial part of the sponsorship package and brands “activate” sponsorship through advertisements.  Typically, a multiple of 3-5 times the value of the original sponsorship is spent activating a sponsorship through advertising.  If advertising a sponsorship becomes problematic or restricted, then the value of the original sponsorship agreement (for both the sponsor and the event) becomes significantly devalued.  Due to a limited pool of sponsorship opportunities, private partnerships are hugely important to cultural activity in Ireland, and the contribution it makes to society. Iconic events made possible by sponsorship include the Galway Arts Festival, which had a record attendance of 200,000 people last year and has become a landmark cultural event in Europe. Similarly, the Cork Jazz Festival attracted 40,000 fans and 1,000 musicians from over 20 countries in 2016 and has been an annual feature in Cork’s cultural calendar since 1978”.

A recent study carried out by UK-based BOP consultants commissioned by MCD, Fáilte Ireland and the IMRO into the economic impact of live events in Ireland (this includes all major Ticketmaster events) showed just what an enormous contribution music events alone made to the economy.

Overview of key findings:

Total Of which tourists
Attendees 2,262,090 120,918
Revenue (€mn) €900 €60
Gross Value Added (contribution to GDP) (€mn) €376 €25
Employment 6,448 465
Bed nights generated 2,915,797
Additional spending: total (€mn) €447
Food and Drink (€mn) €81
Accommodation (€mn) €68
Shopping (€mn) €55
Other leisure attractions (€mn) €31
Travel within country (€mn) €49

“There is a real lack of joined up thinking when it comes to Government policy. On the hand the Programme for a Partnership Government states, “the arts belong to everybody and we need to increase access to and participation in, the arts… societies which invest in the arts and heritage are more prosperous, successful societies”. The Government has invested significantly in Creative Ireland, a five-year initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy. Yet on the other hand the unintended consequences of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will only serve to undermine this commitment by jeopardising the partnerships that make cultural events possible. A much more workable solution is to place the existing codes on a statutory footing, with significant penalties for breaches. This could be implemented within a much shorter short timeframe with a regulatory authority already in place to police the system”.

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