By Cian Pierce
Should the arts even be sponsored? Dublin’s historic and iconic Olympia Theatre is the latest landmark to take on a corporate sponsor following the announcement of a partnership with Three. The mobile company is to rename the historic building the ‘3Olympia Theatre’, quite frankly missing an opportunity to name it “The Threeatre”. According to Three Ireland, the eight-year sponsorship agreement will support the much-awaited reopening of the venue after its closure during the past 18 months due to Covid-19, which was a devastating hit to the entertainment industry.
The historical venue located on Dame St. opened its doors in 1879 as The Star of Erin Music Hall and has gone through a couple of name changes in its history but wasn’t known as The Olympia Theatre until 1923. The Theatre has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment from Charlie Chaplin and Lauren and Hardy to Christmas pantos and an extensive list of modern superstars including Radiohead, Hozier and (most importantly) Lizzo.
Caroline Downey, owner of the Olympia and a director of event promoters MCD, said: “Three has become one of Ireland’s most supportive brands in music with 3Arena and festival sponsorships as well as making a real and credible contribution to Irish music artists and we are delighted to embark on this journey with them as partners as we enter a new era in this venue’s storied history.”
Chief commercial officer of Three Ireland and Three UK Elaine Carey added: “We are excited to add 3Olympia Theatre to our amazing portfolio of music sponsorships and look forward to welcoming fans back to the theatre soon. […] This venue holds a very special place in the hearts of music fans, and we are committed to supporting the live entertainment industry and this iconic venue as it prepares to reopen to the public.”
To mark the occasion and celebrate the newfound agreement, Three will be partnering with some Irish artists to pay homage to past artists who have played the venue in the past. This won’t be the only thing they do as Three customers will receive benefits to events at 3Olympia, including access to pre-sale tickets!
The 3Olympia isn’t the first Irish venue to take on a corporate sponsor. Three already sponsors entertainment and live music including the 3 Arena, Electric Picnic and the Longitude festival. While most people understand and accept the fact that the arts need sponsorships, for better or for worse, to stay afloat so long as they continue to be underfunded even though over quarantine, we all should have realized that the arts are an integral part of our everyday lives. The renaming of a venue is not unusual, Three changed the name of The Point Theatre to the 3Arena and The Grand Canal Theatre became the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Public perception of this sponsorship has people split over the changes, some accept the change with open arms and some downright refuse to refer to the venue by its new name. A Twitter user voiced her displeasure, and summed up the feelings of the majority, saying that “enforcing a name change […] on an iconic Dublin landmark is obscene and tacky. Stop it.”, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Sponsoring the arts is mutually beneficial: artists get to share their work with the world, and businesses get to grow, engage new customers in innovative ways and support the community. In the past, there has been controversy over whether artists should be fussy when accepting corporate sponsorships, given that some organisations willing to give substantial amounts of money to artists, groups, awards, etc. might not be the most ethical to do business with.
So, what can we do to help? How do we, as students, support the arts? Unfortunately, until the day comes where we can redistribute the wealth, we students probably don’t have large amounts of money we can invest into the arts but that doesn’t mean we can’t help. Both online and in-person we can still show our support, and since Cork is a haven for the arts, opportunities to support local artists are plentiful from galleries to buskers!
The most important way you can support artists is to show up to events. Showing up to an exhibition – even virtually – can be an extremely cultural experience. Over the past year, many arts institutions and galleries have moved their collections online to virtual viewing rooms. A lot of the time entrance is free, and it goes a very long way to showcase support for the local artistic community.
Social media has become an extremely powerful tool, sharing art online can be extremely valuable to artists in giving them more exposure (just remember that “paying in exposure” isn’t actual payment). Leaving a nice comment, sharing posts and following artists can be very uplifting and will make a difference.
Reaching out to local artists in your community to purchase a one-of-a-kind commissioned piece is incredibly helpful. Interacting with local artists and commissioning their work allows them to pursue their passion.
If you are financially able to financially, you could always donate to a local museum or art gallery and make yourself feel closer to the arts and your community. Donating or purchasing a membership is a lovely gift idea and usually provides unlimited access to more exclusive exhibitions, events and programmes.
American theatre director Peter Sellars once said, “The true purpose of art is to recycle money”, we can decide whether that money will belong to a corporation or to a loving and supportive community.