Festivals being fairly expensive to run, especially with the vagarities of weather, Appel Farm has had sponsors for a number of years. At one time it was a bank, but now it is Comcast Cable with Target Stores sponsoring the Children’s Village.
There are some who don’t like the fact we accept money from the evil cable behemoth. I have to say in dealing with them that this is a case where the parts are actually greater than the sum. The festival doesn’t get its money directly from the corporate offices but rather through the local offices. The corporate offices allocate a certain amount of money to the local regional offices to distribute as they see fit. The amount the festival recieves is closer to the amount a theatre or ballet might receive from a production sponsor than the amount stadiums receive for naming rights.
The local folks are really wonderful to work with. They very cooperative and not at all demanding for attention or special treatment. The biggest problem one might say we have with them is that after sponsoring us for 4 years, ironically there is no cable service to Appel Farm. The cable stops a mile down the road which has meant that the intern house and summer camp staff has had to rely on rabbit ears to get any reception.
In return for their money, Comcast gets to put some banners up, places a big bus on the grounds where they distribute literature, has a couple people running around in Nickeloden and Cartoon Network cartoon character costumes and use one of our buildings for a reception. They also get a block of tickets for the event which they use to invite government officials and other they want to woo to the festival. These folks also get to go to the reception they hold.
They order whatever tents, tables, chairs and linens they need from the same tent vendor we use so we take responsibility for pointing out where these things need to be placed when the delivery truck rolls up and that is the extent of our involvement with the technical details of their reception. (Though there are about 4-5 meetings in the winter to review the previous festival and to hammer these details out well in advance of the event.)
Once the festival is running, they are really pretty low key. We only have 2 people assigned to help Comcast the entire day. One makes sure they have all the tables and extension cords they need, the other helps them process the VIPs they invite to the reception. In some regard the reception is almost an added bonus for the Farm because the executive and development directors have the opportunity to do a little lobbying of state lawmakers about the arts funding situation.
Last year they even did a documentary on the festival and recorded mini-concert/Q&As with 6 musicians for their programming line up. This year they are coming back to get a few more shots for the documentary because the rain last year didn’t make for the best representation of the festival.
All in all the relationship has been fairly productive for all parties. There hasn’t been any pressure brought to bear in order to influence artist selection. Other than some star struck autograph seeking, no one has thrown their weight around to get special access to performers or uttered an arrogant “Do you know who I AM!” Some of this is due to the atmosphere of the festival and the fact that the people who are fans of our line up aren’t usually the type that use bullying to get what they seek. The rest is just because at least this particular segment of the corporation is staffed by nice people.