Friday, 3 June 2011

Times to credit show sponsors in arts reviews

The Times is to name the main sponsors of shows in its arts reviews, the paper has revealed.

Times' chief culture writer Richard Morrison, in a article about the change in policy, says: "For the first time in more than two centuries The Times will credit the main sponsors of the shows it reviews. It’s a move that has been contemplated many times in the 27 years that I have been writing for this paper.

"If my old brain recalls correctly, we rejected it in the past for two reasons. We didn’t want businesses to feel that they could buy an approving mention in The Times simply by chucking a bit of their loose change at a theatre. And we felt rather like the irked reader who wrote to me last week. We believed that the arts pages should focus on the art itself, not the financial arrangements behind the scenes."

He adds: "Perhaps that was always a blinkered attitude. After all, if there’s no one to pay the piper, there’s no tune. But in those palmy days when hefty arts subsidies seemed guaranteed forever and sponsorship looked like a nice icing on the cake, such views were widely held.

"Well, that age — of innocence, naivety or myopia; call it what you will — seems prehistoric. The recession, the big cuts in government spending, the reluctance of many formerly generous businesses to sponsor the arts while laying off their own staff, the reduction in the investment income of trusts and individuals who once donated millions: all this has generated something close to despair in many cultural quarters."

Morrison says the arts "needs friends in the media who are civilised enough to give the oxygen of publicity to great art. Since its first day of publication The Times has celebrated and chronicled the cultural life of the nation, as well as much else.

"If we can now help our brilliant performers and artists to flourish in these perilous times, we should."

  • I remember a Times journalist quitting after a Sky logo appeared on one of his arts pages.
  • The Times is behind a paywall.

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