By Jemma Wolfe

It has become par for the course that any large artistic event that one attends is “made possible” by corporate sponsorship and that we can expect the corporation’s logo, name and brand to have a prominent presence. Recall the Skydome being renamed to the Rogers Centre or “Virgin Mobile Presents Osheaga” Montreal music festival.

On a local level, think Theatre Aquarius’s transition to Theatre Aquarius Dofasco Centre for the Arts, the TD Festival of Friends, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton BMO Financial Group World Film Festival. What a commercial mouthful.

Most recently, the commercialization of an artistic event or space was witnessed in McMaster’s win of the TD Pump It Up contest. Last Thursday, Nov. 22, approximately 2,500 McMaster students had the opportunity to attend a free concert at Hamilton Place’s Wentworth Room.

The show opened with Young Empires, then Dragonette performed, and Steve Aoki closed the night. These popular musicians’ performances however were completely overshadowed by the corporate presence of TD.

Walking into the venue, one had to move through a green-curtained TD tunnel of sorts, plastered with the TD logo and lined with TD representatives.

Once inside the concert space, the logo was projected in larger-than-life forms on multiple walls, TD representatives milled around the space, the stage was framed with TD banners and slogans, and all the columns were wrapped in posters. Even the lighting was usually green.

Throughout the night, the excessive presence of TD’s logos, colours and signage was oppressive, distracting and incredibly distasteful. Future corporations sponsoring events – by TD or otherwise – should pay more careful attention to the fine line that separates tasteful advertising presence of a corporation’s positive support of arts and culture, from the overwhelming corporate atmosphere that detracts from the artistic purpose of the event.

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