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Partnership Case Studies

INNOVATION: Wesfarmers Arts
In 2003 the Festival and Wesfarmers developed a programming strategy to enable the Festival to commission new artistic work - the Wesfarmers Arts Commission Series.

As a diversified company Wesfarmers has built an impressive record of identifying potential in under-performing companies, investing in those companies and making strategic changes which release the value for shareholders and pay dividends long into the future.

Wesfarmers applied these same business principles to the Wesfarmers Arts Commission Series. It demonstrated strong vision and strategy to implement a capacity building objective in the local arts sector, which will pay creative dividends for all of Western Australia.

The Series established a significant pool of money to be invested in the creative development of new work. Like all research and development the creation of new work attracts significant risk. Wesfarmers' investment meant the Festival, in partnership with the Western Australian flagship arts companies, could absorb this risk and giving leading local, national and international artists the freedom to create new work:

The Festival & West Australian Ballet, 2005, Kalmuk
The Festival & West Australian Symphony Orchestra, 2006, Vexations and Devotions
The Festival & Black Swan Theatre Company, 2006, The Odyssey
The Festival & West Australian Opera, 2007, The Love of the Nightingale

In 2007 the partnership won the State and National Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) Marsh Partnering Award for partnerships between businesses employing 200 or more people. The Partnership then went on to win the Partnership of the Year Award.

"A leading example of what the Australia Business Arts Foundation Partnership Awards are about, in the sense that you have a great corporation providing significant funding and producing quality outcomes that is also doing a significant amount of work to underscore the importance of the arts both to patrons and the community." AbaF Partnership Award Judge

Wesfarmers Arts renewed its support of the Festival for the ART:CITY program which will transform our city spaces during the 2008 to 2011 Festivals.

One of the Festival's artistic platforms is our contemporary culture program.  In 2004 the Perth Concert Hall's verandah became the new home of the program, offering 3 weeks of cutting edge acts crossing all genres of music as well as comedy and cabaret. The vision of The Verandah was "to be the coolest place in summer". It was open air, in the heart of the city, buzzing seven nights a week and a unique place where you could eat, drink, dance and socialise. The audience was one of ambitious young professionals, trendy music lovers who were culturally aware, media savvy and expected a quality experience.

The Festival approached Lion Nathan Australia (LNA), a leading brewer, winemaker and marketer/distributor of alcoholic beverages in the Australasian and international markets to support The Verandah.  At that time their premium beer brand Beck's was focused on creating a strong point of difference as other premium beer brands entered the market.

LNA wanted to shift Beck's' brand perception from 'premium' to 'cool' and connect emotionally with their customers to do so. Presented with the options of exclusive 'bar naming' or 'venue naming' rights, LNA chose the latter and reaped the benefit of being associated with a location that was to become an icon, not just of the Festival but of summer in Perth.

From 2005 to 2007 the Beck's Verandah audience grew 49% to almost 12,000.  In 2007 over half the performances sold out and the venue reached 86% capacity overall.  A new venue was required. The Beck's Music Box (BMB) was proposed to LNA - a huge purpose-designed sail structure rising above the stage of an open air auditorium, located on the Esplanade with the city lights as a backdrop.

Both partners recognised developing BMB would be a significant investment which carried risks; however LNA shared the Festival's vision and renewed the partnership to end of 2011. In 2009 the venue attracted over 24,000 people.

Exclusive naming rights provides significant brand exposure. The Beck's logo has been incorporated into the BMB brand. It features on all BMB promotional material; brochures, press, radio, TV and digital advertising, food and drink vouchers, tickets, website pages and media releases. There is a high level of branding at the venue: fence wrap, shipping container signage, bar infrastructure, bar mats, staff clothing and wristbands. BMB is often referred to by audience as just 'Beck's', allowing for brand recognition without prompting.

LNA uses a sophisticated measurement tool to evidence that the Festival partnership leads to the desired change in brand perception, brand loyalty and increased sales.

During the 2008 Festival global engineering and environmental services firm, URS, hosted key clients at the Festival's Beck's Music Box. Positive feedback from URS' clients and hosts encouraged the company to investigate partnership opportunities for the 2009 Festival. The two companies had common business principles and strategies and commenced a mutually beneficial partnership in support of Beck's Music Box.

Following the success of the 2009 Festival, URS renewed their support of the Beck's Music Box for 2010. The partnership was expanded to involve a key business strategy of both companies: the promotion of sustainable business practices, which aim to achieve enduring positive value across social, economic and environmental outcomes.

In the lead up to the 2010 and 2011 Festivals URS assisted the Festival by providing contra environmental consultancy and developing a sustainability framework encompassing a vision, strategy, goals and tangible action items.  Subsequently, doing what we do in a more environmentally sustainable way has been embraced whole-heartedly by the Festival.

URS's strategies relevant to the partnership:
- Satisfying clients' expectations through unique corporate hospitality experiences that help build lasting relationships.
- Realising the full potential of staff through engendering a strong esprit de corp through staff engaging in arts and cultural activities.
- Contributing to community wellbeing by supporting an arts event that challenges, educates, enlightens and inspires its audience.

Festival's strategies relevant to the partnership:
- Quality Festival by presenting an outstanding and innovative contemporary culture program, Beck's Music Box.
- Growth for the future through financial investment to achieve current objectives and ensure audiences for future Festivals.
- Impact and legacy through a sustainability framework to ensure future generations enjoy arts and culture as much as we do today.

Key partnership objectives were agreed on to achieve these strategies:
- To build brand profile and awareness.
- To have a positive impact on staff culture.
- To inspire and motivate all Festival employees, patrons, artists and suppliers to embrace initiatives that created positive social, environmental and economic outcomes.

The partnership is a sophisticated and mutually beneficial relationship providing tangible and intangible benefits to both partners. In 2010, the partnership was the winner of the State Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) Partnering Award.

For further information regarding URS' sustainability services please view the website at www.ap.urscorp.com