the grass is greener on the internet

The Last Post, brought to you by…
September 22, 2009, 6:15 pm
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It’s a multi-million dollar business. Plenty are vying for it in the lower ranks but if you make it, you can make it big. It can make dreams – or crush them.

Sponsorship is nothing new, finding its roots in patronage of the arts by nobility which ensured that what we now know as great artists did not become starving artists. It’s now branched out into fancier words, like ‘philanthropy’ or ‘community investment’, but the concept remains the same; there are some things  of great value to society which would not be possible without the financial contribution of the wealthy.

What HAS changed is that it is no longer nobility with the money, but corporations. With corporations comes accountability to shareholders, ROI and phrases like ‘strategic alignment’.

And while donations have always come with the price of control, it’s more difficult to accept that the person in control is actually several persons out to make as much money as possible with limited liability.

So understandably, the recent move by TransACT to sponsor the daily recital of the last post at the National War Memorial sparked heated debate. Commercialisation of a memorial ceremony? The collective rolling in graves could start an earthquake.

We’re told that the ceremony would otherwise no longer be able to run, and assured that any promotion will be tasteful.

What are TransACT paying for then? Apparently, usage of facilities. (An interesting move, no doubt negotiations are that much more intimidating with a backdrop of deathly silence and marble plaques saying ‘we will remember’.)

It’s a risky move given the headlines. But once you look at the facts, it’s a partnership with some potential. A little disappointed that PR didn’t work with it. Hopefully in the next few days we’ll see recognition of the fact that a sponsored service is better than no service at all…

2 Comments so far
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Nice post, Katherine. I must admit I was also surprised at the reaction and the assumption that commercial sponsorship of a daily commemoration must be a “bad thing” by definition.

That there seemed to be no support at all for the idea made me wonder whether the story might have been designed to shame Government into providing more (non-commercial) funding.

Of course sponsorship could be tasteful and restrained. And, as you point out, it might well be a way of continuing to fund the service.

Would it be unfair for me to ask – rhetorically – whether many of the people who tut-tutted are the same people who happily turn back to the one-armed bandits or their bingo cards at the RSL the moment the oath is finished?

Comment by Stephen Downes

Cheers for the comment Stephen. Apparently the official RSL line is that anything is better than no service, though if ABC talkback is any indication of what the members are actually saying, they’re not happy.

Definitely some government guilt going on – although surely if you can get away with swearing and strip clubs then taking money from the War Memorial should be a walk in the park.

Anyway, I’m glad the service is still going, even if part of that is just because I can think of some shockingly lame headlines if it stopped…

Comment by katherineliew

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