29 March 2016back

Horsecross Arts and Grassicks of Perth – Sleeping Beauty at Perth Concert Hall

Impacts: Tourism

Project story

Louisa Evans (Head of Development for Horsecross Arts) and Colin Grassick (Managing Director of Grassick’s of Perth) have met on a number of occasions over the years at various local networking events. Both are members of the Invest in Perth Ambassador Scheme and during a members networking event in April 2014 Louisa and Colin began a discussion around ‘working together for shared benefit’. This was followed by an invite to Perth Concert Hall to meet with Colin and Grassick’s Customer Care Manager, Kathryn Davie. During this visit, and after a detailed discussion regarding Grassick’s sponsorship objectives, Louisa presented a number of sponsorship opportunities and a range of sponsorship benefits, and indicated that if a sponsorship package could be agreed this would be tailored to match the business’s requirements.

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The key objectives for the sponsor was to have the opportunity for product placement (two cars parked in the concert hall foyer) within Perth Concert Hall along with the opportunity to support Perth Theatre’s drama programme during the theatre’s temporary closure – both Colin and Kathryn have been ardent supporters of Perth Theatre for many years.

The key objectives for Horsecross Arts was to attract a well-known and well-regarded local company to be the main Panto sponsor and in doing so provide extra funds to support the cost of building a proscenium arch for the concert hall stage – Perth Theatre is temporarily closed for a £15m transformational restoration and redevelopment project and during this period Perth Concert Hall is hosting the annual Perth Panto – with the change in venue from a traditional intimate theatre space to a modern concert hall auditorium we were keen to replicate a theatre setting by building a proscenium arch for the concert hall stage.

After a couple of meetings with Colin and Kathryn to discuss what sponsorship benefits would be of benefit and also what extra benefits could be offered if match funding was to be achieved (match funding was a huge incentive for Grassicks who hadn’t had any involvement with an arts organisation for many years) a sponsorship proposal was sent to Grassicks for their approval. The whole process from the initial conversation to sign off of the sponsorship proposal took only three months which Horsecross acknowledge is a very short time for a sponsorship agreement to be reached. We believe this can be attributed to Grassicks having an existing knowledge of our business, an interest in Perth Theatre, attractive sponsorship benefits and a good rapport being developed between both parties.

The relationship continued in the same direction with good lines of communication and no problems arising from either side. The sponsor was also happy to pay for the hire cost of lighting to spotlight the cars in the foyer which made a real difference to the appearance of the cars. They also sent their team to the concert hall to polish the cars on a daily basis. Their professional approach was particularly appreciated by the Horsecross Production and Front of House team.

Delivering the benefits listed below was relatively straight forward and because we valued Grassicks contribution to our Panto and we hope to work with them again in the future, we went the extra mile to deliver a number of additional benefits as listed below.

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Arts/cultural organisation story

A number of significant benefits have been gained from this sponsorship. These include Horsecross now enjoying a good relationship with one of Perth’s leading car outlets allowing for discussions around future sponsorship opportunities to take place as well as Grassicks involvement with Horsecross (product placement, marketing, participation in the local Christmas light switch-on) being observed by thousands of local audiences, communities and visitors – some of whom could be potential sponsors or funders in the FutureBrand association – Grassicks has been one of Perth’s leading car outlets since 1923 and association with their brand provides added value to the existing portfolio of Horsecross sponsors. Horsecross was able to build a proscenium arch for Perth Concert Hall which was used for the Panto and will also continue to be used for future drama performances being held at Perth Concert Hall. As well as this, more than 30 Grassicks employees signed up to receive complimentary membership of Perth Concert Hall – this helps Horsecross to increase membership and at the same develop audiences.

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Business story

In addition to the agreed benefits, Horsecross offered Grassicks a number of additional benefits as detailed in above. These additional benefits were well received and have encouraged Grassicks to consider future sponsorship opportunities available. After the sponsorship, Grassicks could confirm that they had noticed a spike in their online traffic which they attributed to their two cars being on show in Perth Concert Hall. Grassicks also reported that a high proportion of their customers over the Christmas period remarked on seeing the cars on display at Perth Concert Hall. Grassicks used their complimentary tickets to reward staff and also to thank their loyal customers.

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Colin Grassick had a ‘really enjoyable day with plenty of laughter’ during his role as chauffeur to the Panto Dame and her entourage during the Perth Christmas light switch-on! This type of involvement is one of those special ‘money can’t buy’ sponsorship benefits.

At the post sponsorship review meeting Grassicks confirmed that they would definitely consider future sponsorship of the Horsecross cultural or creative learning programme, albeit next time they would like to try something different such as sponsorship of a classical event or the Horsecross educational programme. Grassicks also confirmed that BMW were particularly pleased with the sponsorship as BMW tends to only be involved in sports based sponsorship which tends to exclude the capture of a female market, whereas arts sponsorship reaches out to both a male and female audience. The success of this sponsorship has resulted in the possibility of Grassicks securing additional funds, directly from BMW, to support a future Horsecross sponsorship deal.

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Audience/people/community story

Panto is always a great success with regards to community involvement as we invite (free of charge) a number of local groups who often experience social exclusion or who would not otherwise have an opportunity to come along to the Panto, such as young people with disabilities, young carers and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moving Panto from Perth Theatre to Perth Concert Hall (which has a bigger capacity) required an enhanced marketing campaign as many of our former Panto customers had to be convinced that Panto would ‘work’ and be as good as it was in Perth Theatre. For this reason we overspent on our marketing budget as we want to maintain our Panto and Theatre audiences for the next two years during Perth Theatre’s temporary closure.

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The enhanced campaign was successful; we exceeded our audience figures despite this being the first year Panto was held in the concert hall and in the main received good critical response from the audience and the press.

As mentioned previously, the additional sponsorship benefits were critical to securing this sponsorship as the volume and diversity of benefits we were able to offer represented an excellent return for Grassicks £5,000 investment. The sponsor also commented that they were encouraged by the extra benefits being offered and the association with Arts & Business Scotland.

From our own perspective, managing and delivering sponsors benefits and exceeding expectations requires dedicated time, the extra £5,000 we received in match funding from Arts & Business Scotland’s New Arts Sponsorship programme increased the value of our own investment.

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“I came along to the first night of Panto just before I started my new post as Horsecross CEO and I was impressed with the two striking and shiny cars taking centre stage in the concert hall’s foyer. I was also pleased that our Chair, Magnus Linklater, gave Grassicks of Perth a special mention at the first night reception after the Panto. Not only did it reinforce how pleased we were to receive the support from Grassicks, it demonstrated to other potential funders in the room that Horsecross is actively seeking to work with corporate partners. Louisa has built a sound positive relationship with Grassicks and our hope is that this will continue long into the future. The extra value of the Arts & Business Scotland New Arts Sponsorship match fund was without doubt a great incentive and initiatives such as this really encourage the arts sector to work more closely with businesses.”

Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer, Horsecross Arts

“It was a pleasure working with Louisa on this valuable and fun initiative. The Horsecross team are professional and enthusiastic, and we derived a great deal of benefit from this sponsorship arrangement. To reach such a large section of the local population, and surrounding areas, in so many different forms and in such a positive environment was a superb incentive for us and it worked beautifully.”

Kathryn Davie, Customer Care Manager, Grassicks of Perth