Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sponsorship blues

My criticism of the This Day jamboree a few weeks ago has been thrown into stark contrast in the past few days. It's been extremely difficult to attract sponsorship for our forthcoming Abidemi Sanusi tour (to Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Jos, from November 18th for two weeks) from either private sector companies or from Foundations and the like - even though you would have thought that promoting literacy and a reading culture is something many companies would want to be associated with. Definitely, the positive association we can offer is probably worth more than the hard cash we're asking for.

It's a shame that millions of dollars can be spent bringing American pop stars over (and other similar fripperies), which has little or no impact on the country, whereas the small amount of support we need to put on regular Cassava Republic author tours and writers' workshops falls on deaf ears. Although people talk about getting Nigeria reading again, it seems there isn't really any serious committment from the people with the deep pockets. Fundraising in Nigeria really is only about who you know, not about your value proposition. It's not just a problem we at Cassava Republic face, it's a problem for the Arts and Culture sector in general.

Anyone who wants to offer their support (no matter how small the contribution, it will be gratefully received and put to good use), please email: [email protected]


bisi,  4:50 pm  

Why don't you try 'glamming' up literacy, like they do in the States with the 'No child Left Behind' campaign. Use your contacts in entertainment to get popular Nollywood stars, music stars etc... to do radio/tv ads to say how much they love to read, why it's important to read to kids etc.. and use the funds to bring your other artistes over. Unfortunately the world over (and especially in Nigeria) reading is not glam, sexy or exciting to anyone in general and youth in particular, therefore advertising and sponsorship does not follow. You have an uphill struggle, but you have made a start, keep going, just thing out of the box...

Anonymous,  4:55 pm  

Hi Jeremy, did you try Citibank Nigeria? When I worked there, a long time ago now, they suported a bit of the arts including a play by Ola Rotimi which was shown in a few places accross the country. Although I think plenty of notice usually helps the planning process.

Anonymous,  5:24 pm  

welcome to Nigeria Jeremy. Now you see why the country is in the mess that it is in. why people don't read. why people don't think. why Nollywood thrive more than literature.

When private sector supports the art it is usually musical performances and the occassional theatre. When I worked in one of the big banks a few years ago, and I sat on the committee that decides on CSR funding, most of the things we funded did not deserve the millions we gave them - i.e. award nights, fashion shows etc. It was sickening in fact. Many of these events even charge people to get in. So you wonder why they needed our sponsorship in the first place. NGOs asking us for support towards things like education, orphanges, women's battered homes were simply laughed at and thrown out.

So don't hold your breath. Many who make decisions about sponsorship and CSR stuff don't read and if they read they won't dream of attending a book reading. I use to find book readings quite boring, but I really enjoyed the Diana Evans reading at the British council, especially with supporting artists like Sage and Savannah and then the food and the drinks. It was really good. It made the whole reading more of an event than your usual bog standard book reading I use to attend when I lived in DC. It must have cost you people a fair whack. It was a good opportunity to hang out and engage people in discussion about books. I even met some people there and we have now formed a book club.

But good luck with your fundraising. You know a company that I'm sure would love to be associated with your brand is BAT. But I guess this will go against your ethical position. Abi!

kemi,  6:22 pm  

How much do you need?

(I'm asking seriously by the way. Give a figure).

Anonymous,  7:21 pm  

You have to make it sexy, jazz it up a bit. Nigerian love glamour and showbiz.

If you go in there in a very dry way then no one will be interested especially when you start preaching about the ethical aspect. Can the ethical aspect for now and think about what would be the benefits, for the companies, associated with sponsoring your campaign.

Put on your thinking cap and actually think!

Anonymous,  7:24 pm  

Story reading/spoken word is very funky right now. Maybe you can get theatre arts students to read some of the sections, of the books you are promoting, in a hip hop way.

Don't forget Nigerians are very current and anything contemporary will be lapped up.

Anonymous,  7:49 pm  

I don't think it is as easier as you all think. I have tried raising funds for some performances - especially spoken word performances - hot,hip and sexy. but apparently not to the sponsor. After all my trying and effort, I only got somewhere when somebody gave me a contact, who owes the person. Whether we like it or not thats how things are here.

Wishing you all the best.


Anthony Arojojoye 8:32 pm  

Now you're waking up to what we call :-).
I support Bisi's idea that you should call some artistes & showbiz personalities to come do their thing & then insert your programme in-between.
You can also contact Reuben Abati (Guardian Newspaper editor). I think they have a book club and should be able to give you links/info on how to go about your plans without hassles.
I don't have his number though, you can try emailing them at Guardian.

Anonymous,  12:39 am  

Try Accenture Nigeria, they have a fund for the "arts", that said given the timing you might be unlikely to get something.

Anonymous,  3:07 am  

this isnt a nigerian thing per se. i've gotten the same problems in new york trying to fund projects. there are a ton of projects and not as much money to go around

Just call me A,  8:14 am  

First of all, who is Abidemi Sanusi?

Prospective sponsors would have to get the answer to that simple question, 'cause they want to know if the name is worth putting money into. It's not like getting people or corporate bodies to support the arts is an impossible task. It's just that they want proofs that you deserve it.

Someone cannot just come from the blues and say, "I wrote a book. Now I should go on tour. Support me."

Remember that there are hundreds of authors that fit that description.

Wish you luck, anyway.

Anonymous,  11:01 am  

How much are you trying to raise?

Anonymous,  3:08 am  

hi jeremy
my friend has an NGO or sumn like that called AIPA...Against illiteracy, poverty and AIDS...and they are having a fundraiser in december, which is probably too late for you and they are already donating proceeds to WHED, but im sure they would be happy to collaborate with u on future projects provided u stand up to scrutiny and um they can get u a lot of money since they err rub shoulders with creme da la creme in nigeria

plus i could give u my moms contact info, she's in the NGO industry and can further help u out, shes based in abuja as well.

Ore 11:18 am  

We've been facing many of the same issues at work trying to raise money for a youth program we run.
Our successes have been scored mostly by going through friends and personal contacts.

Raising awareness through the media is great, but we have learnt that potential benefactors typically want to know what's in it for them i.e. a great legacy that they will be associated with (for the less materialistic) or a more direct benefit.

Jeremy 12:29 pm  

Just call me a:

Of course we provide potential fundraisers with more than enough information. If you want to find out more, look here:

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