Thursday, 5 August 2010


From the tough-love glibness of the title downwards, this Guardian piece of yesterday is truly reprehensible, not to mention sinister and worrying.

How such a blatant piece of corporate PR got to be published by a still-at-least-notionally-sort-of-left-wing-ish paper is beyond me. In the comments section, the Guardian's Andrew Dickson offers the following pathetic, arch-Liberal defence:

The point of running a piece by someone who works for a bank (as I think is reasonably obvious) is to put a point of view that doesn't often get heard in these circles. In all the articles we've fun on the funding debate over the last few months, we haven't heard from anyone who actually stumps up some corporate cash. Hence this. 

The naivety of this astonishes me. Does he think Rena De Sisto is solely responsible for "stumping up cash", Old World patron-style, and that this article offers any kind of subjective insight into her reasons for doing so? There seems to have been some confusion on the part of the Guardian about what constitutes "opinion" and "debate", and what is, quite obviously, meticulously oiled propaganda. Serious questions should be asked about how this article - a straightforward case of stealth marketing granted legitimacy by the Guardian name/blog format - managed to slip through the net.

A few risible low-lights from De Sisto's piece itself:

Companies have many people to answer to – shareholders among them – and must extract sound business benefits, such as access for employees, brand visibility and client outreach opportunities.

[If this sentence made sense, it might be easier to debunk. The suggestion seems to be that, because companies have to respond to shareholders, and increase "brand visibility", this will encourage them to fund edgy, worthwhile creative projects? As I say: difficult to respond to logic this perverse.]

Treat your funders like valued clients and, like all satisfied clients, they will become more loyal. Some organisations, such as the Old Vic and Tate, do this very effectively and make it easy for Bank of America Merrill Lynch to continue our support of them.

[The mask slips a bit here, as De Sisto's prose begins to sound truly shuddersome, nay devious.]

That said, companies have an obligation not to interfere in artistic matters.

[Just not true. Again, obligation to whom? Shareholders? Employees? "Client outreach opportunities"?]

... more companies need to learn what support for the arts can do for their company. These may include connecting to existing or potential customers; creating benefits for employees; providing arts education to tomorrow's workforce; being a good corporate citizen; creating a more culturally aware society; enriching the community it is doing business in. Or perhaps all of these things.

[Isn't this called something like "humaneness" or "being a good person"? It's not entirely clear how this might viewed as in any way related to "companies doing something for their company". "Corporate responsibility" is simply illogical, as well as hollow and untenable.]

Our company understands that the arts matter.

Following our merger with Merrill Lynch, our company now has nearly 300,000 employees, and millions of clients, in more than 40 nations around the world – and thus a vested interest in improved cultural understanding.
In fact, one of the most compelling reasons for corporations to invest in the arts is its power to create greater cultural understanding. Problems of economic stability, standards of living, the environment, peace and prosperity among nations and peoples all require a foundation of cultural understanding and tolerance to progress towards solutions.

And so on ad nauseum ...
Meanwhile, farcical/profoundly disturbing developments seem to be arriving so thickly and fastly in the footballing world, myself and assorted pals have decided to set up a separate football blog (news on this soon).

Top of the list at the moment are proposals to involve the Premier League in the Tories "free schools" policy. I think if I had to choose the organization I would least like to take responsibility for the education of the country's young, it would surely be either the FA or the Premier League.

Instead of allowing flagships and grammars to take over failing schools, how about letting Premier League chairmen run educational institutions? In which case, Mike "Local Hero" Ashley of Newcastle United, with his proven record of competence and organizational nous, could be an inspirational figurehead for the new policy.

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