In search of creativity
Each of the judges in this year’s Allianz Business to Arts Awards had three weeks to read the submissions and then select their favourite projects before they all came together on judging day. Ultimately, the cream rose to the top
RODDY GUINEY, chairman of Wilson Hartnell Public Relations, says one of the interesting aspects of this year's judging for the Allianz Business to Arts Awards was that one of the biggest categories in terms of entries was for large sponsorships.
From the total of 55 entries, 22 were in the category for sponsorships over €25,000 in value. The three finalists in the category were Bank of America Merrill Lynch for a range of projects, including with a conservation project with the National Gallery; category winner BNP Paribas and the Irish Museum of Modern Art for 'The Moderns'; and Premier Foods and Children's Books Ireland for Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards.
"I come from a non-arts background and have been heavily involved in sponsorship for years, but mainly for sport. I was blown away by some of the entries to this year's Allianz Business to Arts Awards. There were some fantastic ideas. The awards show there is still money out there for the right collaborations, the same as in the sports world," says Guiney. "One of the things that came out loud and clear from the judging day was how important culture is in terms of local communities.
I was really taken by a number of projects that came out of local initiative – people got totally behind them with culture as the vehicle, rather than the sports club, which was probably the case in the past." He cites the Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival in Schull, Co Cork, which he feels showed a real 'can-do' attitude and the Shelter Me From The Rain opera sponsored by Carlow local authorities. "Sponsors made terrific, brave decisions in many cases," he notes. Guiney was one of the panel of seven judges who took a day out of their schedules to discuss all the entries and decide on the winners. The others were: Ursula Murphy, human resources director, Allianz Ireland; Paul Neeson, director of retail, Dublin Airport Authority; Gerard McNaughton, retail director, TileStyle; Grainne Millar, director of cultural development, Temple Bar Cultural Trust; Breandan O'Broin, director, Company of Words; and Anna O'Sullivan, director, The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. The judging team was interested in finding a creative approach to bringing business and the arts together.
"The judging process is well developed and the criteria are very clear. When it comes to judging day, a lot of the proprietary work has been done and the strengths and weaknesses of the different entries have been identified beforehand. This year, it became evident early on that there were stand-out projects in every category. The most difficult part is eliminating entries!" says Murphy Ursula Murphy adds that the shortlist reflects how innovation and creativity is flourishing between business and the arts. "It's fantastic to see that many relationships have continued while some high profile and innovative new ones have been formed." Guiney agrees that innovation really shone through this year. "I was so impressed with the sheer creativity demonstrated in many of the entries. People are solving problems and are not afraid to take on, or even commission, arts projects, which were really innovative.
The 'Breaking Ground' project in Ballymun was just brilliant in this respect." Breaking Ground commissioned artist John Byrne to produce a significant piece of public art unique to Ballymun. He delivered a large bronze equestrian sculpture with a local teenage girl in a tracksuit as the rider of the horse. Looking at this year's entries, Murphy notes that companies are continuing to provide financial backing for projects, which is extremely important, but also getting actively involved in artistic endeavours. "There is a trend towards businesses working with arts organisations to help make them more sustainable through providing them with the skills. This was evident in the Google Ireland and Arts Audience entry. "In the current economic times businesses everywhere need innovation and creativity to help differentiate themselves and the kind of creative thinking that led to the development of each project has the ability to inform and inspire the very innovation and change process that is often needed to stimulate growth and recovery."