Friday 15 December 2017

More than 20 reasons to celebrate

The Allianz Business to Arts Awards ceremony on 5 September demonstrated the continued enthusiasm and commitment to collaboration that exists between the corporate and cultural communities in Ireland

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese, patron of Business to Arts for all of her 14 years in office, joined leaders from the worlds of business and culture for the Allianz Business to Arts Awards on 5 September in Dublin Castle.

The 220 guests ensured that the rain and wind didn't dampen spirits at the event, which was the 20th year of the awards. Collectively, they celebrated a wide range of creative collaborations from sponsorship agreements to community-based cultural events and in-kind partnerships – all of which represent the joining together of business and the arts for mutual benefit.

There was a real sense of occasion this year as President McAleese nears the end of her second term of office and there was a sense that the audience wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate the President's unswerving support of the arts in Ireland, both within Ireland and further afield. Marking the 20 years of the Dublin Airport Authority commissioning the awards sculpture, guests were treated to a unique exhibition of all 20 sculptures in the entrance of Dublin Castle, as well as entertainment from critically acclaimed Irish composer, singer and producer Julie Feeney and members of her ensemble.

In her speech, the President noted that many of the awards sculptures were commissioned at a time when the artists were at the early stages of their careers, and the opportunity to create work that responded to this brief contributed to their development. "Looking back it is heartening to see that success and international reputation that artists such as Felim Egan, Seamus Gill, Alva Gallagher and Grace Weir have achieved for themselves and for Irish art," she said. This year Newtownards artist Mark Hanvey created the awards sculpture, which was entitled 'Flux'. It features a multi-centred turned-form in bleached oak, nestled in a maple frame and, in addition to the awards being given to the category winners, an edition of the sculpture was presented to President McAleese in recognition of her patronage of Business to Arts.

A wide range of entries The last three years of the Allianz Business to Arts Awards have attracted nominations whose total value exceeds ¤18m. There was an increase in entries from last year, with the shortlist featuring projects from a wide range of sectors – everything from ICT to energy and transport, financial services as well as food and beverages. The visual arts are best represented again this year, with a number of high-profile projects. However, literature, music, film, craft and opera feature also and once again, projects bringing access for children to the arts are well represented. Google, BNP Paribas, Carlow and Cavan County Councils and Bank of America Merrill Lynch were among the businesses and public bodies which made their way to the podium to collect welldeserved Allianz Business to Arts Awards.

Within the highly commended projects, initiatives from a number of high profile organisations such as KPMG, Bord Gáis and U2 were acknowledged for their excellence. The judges were heartened by the fact that many of these relationships are at the early stage of their development and expressed a hope that their initial success would encourage further support into the future. Stuart McLaughlin, chief executive of Business to Arts, noted in his speech that at a time when private support of the arts is becoming increasingly important, it's good to see both the maturing of some relationships and the emergence of new players into the sponsorship arena. Drawing on the theme of ' learning from the past, watching the present and creating future he called for all of those in the room to work in partnership to create a future together. Meanwhile, Brendan Murphy, CEO of Allianz Ireland commented on the important contribution such partnerships make to Ireland as a whole.

"After supporting these awards for 10 years, I am always inspired by the sheer creativity and innovation of our winners. These awards demonstrate, yet again, the contribution and creativity in both the business and arts community, and its importance to our economic and cultural recovery," he said. "While global economists talk of a fragile recovery, we have seen the green shoots of creativity and collaboration start to bear fruit both at a local and national level." The theme for the 20th anniversary of the awards was that we would learn from the past, watch the present and create the future. Having noted the rich mix of highly commended and winning projects McLaughlin said that this blend of multinational corporations represented a shift in thinking on the island of Ireland.

"We [Business to Arts] believe that this is the time to stop talking about the 'new' reality and to recognise that this is the reality," he said. "The partnerships that we recognise and celebrate here this evening demonstrate that plenty of us are simply getting on with discovering the opportunity that lay within the adversity we have faced."

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