Digression: political companies
In 1995, the magazine Die Beute published an essay by
Mauricio Lazzarato on Benetton and Berlusconi, which proved to be
extremely influential for the debate in sponsorship-sceptical circles,
because in it, the dominant role of cultural techniques in the new
post-Ford corporate strategies was emphasised, where ....
aesthetically justified decisions were linked to political
and public-strategic considerations via certain forms of presentation.
Lazzarato took the example of Benetton and Berlusconi to prove that
a new type of political entrepreneur is being formed, who, following
the production of added-value, is now producing experience (which
is also added-value) and can thus emotionalise and politicise public
spheres for himself. The raison dêtre of production
in the post-Ford corporation lay not so much in the
increase of sales as in the production of subjectivity, which
comes increasingly to resemble political action. Benetton
was one of the first companies to give up the centralised manufacture
of clothes, in order to react more flexibly to current fashions
and cycles by distributing production to small firms which, while
nominally independent, were totally at the mercy of
the company placing the orders. Benetton is a company ...without
workers, without factories, without a distribution network... The
added-value results from the channelling and control of currents,
above all financial and communication currents. (ibid.) The
communication and administration apparatus which manages this decentralised
production must function in optimum fashion, just as the chains
of shops organised on the franchising system must have a significant
image at their disposal, which functions by way of a link-up of
the market with key political stimuli. The Benetton PR campaigns
formed the most demotic interface of an avant-garde enterprise with
new artistic and art-institutional self-images. Benetton is
a branding machine for goods produced by other people, and the fulfilment
of this label is a specific form of public relations which works
with emotionalisation via social, ethnic, and political clichés:
the subject who wears Benetton has the same devotional relationship
to the multicultural fatefulness of the disasters of this world
as do the potential collectors and the affected admirers
of Douglas Gordons video-installations of the inmates of psychiatric
On the other hand, the reasons for these forms of image production
also applied very exactly to sponsorship as the new corporate strategy.
This is documented by an extract from a specialist legal article
on the subject: In todays affluent society, characterised
by shorter product life-cycles, increasing supply, internationalisation
of markets, and a constant increase in the flow of information,
communication policy, as a component of the companys marketing,
takes on substantial importance... The market situation is getting
increasingly difficult, however, because the ever-larger supply
of information is leading to the recipient thereof being overloaded...
Phenomena such as zapping (switching channels as soon as commercials
appear on radio or TV) along with a systematic shutting-out of advertising
messages, are well-known. In reaction to the recognised... inefficiency
of communication policy... marketing practice has developed the
idea of sponsorship as a new form of communication policy... From
the point of view of commercial enterprises, the advantages of sponsorship
can be summarised as follows: it addresses target groups in non-commercial
environments... the attitude of rejection among certain target groups...
is less pronounced as a result... The image and the attention-value
of sport, the arts, social commitment and the environment can be
used for the direct promotion of ones own aims. They are positive
image-bearers... By means of sponsorship, communication can be realised
on a target-group-specific basis... By means of sponsorship, existing
communication barriers, in particular existing advertising bans
and restrictions, can be circumvented. In addition, image-advertising
can be placed in circumvention of the requirement that advertising
be kept separate from editorial content in the editorial section
of the medium in question.
Lazzaratos assertion that it is precisely not the economic
benefit increase of sales which provides the raison
dêtre of the communication-strategic company, but rather
the claim to political hegemony, is confirmed once more in numerous
concepts on the fringe of the sponsorship idea: e.g. corporate community
investment. This concept reels off the neo-liberal multiplication-tables
and the hegemony claims of commercial enterprise in such exemplary
fashion that we shall quote it too at some length here:
"1. The positive development of our social system depends on
citizens increasingly pushing back the scope of action of the state
and its overblown, difficult to control organs, and to do as much
as possible with the help of commercially run organisations.
2. Citizens... may be natural persons primarily, but in view of
the effects of their activities, and their accumulated know-how...
legal persons also bear a special degree of civic responsibility.
The technical American term for this is corporate citizenship.
3. Commercial companies have... a huge interest in being seen as
good corporate citizens, because this is the only way that markets
can be guaranteed in the long term.
4. Business must press for rapid deregulation and privatisation,
as this is the only way to reduce the tax burden and push back the
influence of bureaucracy. 
It must be emphasised once again that this is not a recipe for an
actual conspiracy by business against the state, but that these
highly exaggerated concepts, in their pseudo-pragmatism, are, rather,
reflections of ideologies and dispositions.
Postscript: Does culture go on purpose 2000
In aeroplanes one occasionally finds location-advertisement brochures
which answer the Does culture go on purpose problem
in an up-to-date version. This postscript updates the material on
the Frankfurt museum boom and offers a rival foretaste of Berlins
cultural planning: For almost two years the local planning
authorities have been working on a development concept... The mayors
office envisaged an Urban Entertainment Centre for the eastern part
of the site, with a musical theatre, large-scale cinema and shopping
mall... The city administrators and local politicians in their turn
hope that the inner city will be revived by these entertainment
complexes... Just as the owners of the land were getting ready to
sign contracts regarding an extension of the trade fair and the
Urban Entertainment Center (which had already received planning
approval), the Deutsche Bank pressed forward with a gigantic project
in the summer of 1999... On what used to be the fringe of the railway
tracks, the bank now intended to create a whole new quarter from
scratch at a cost of more than 6 billion marks; it was to include,
alongside a multi-purpose hall and a football stadium, also a Stadthaus
(civic centre) with museums, a theatre and cabaret, and a huge shopping
mall and six new tower blocks... This Fair Town project
was partly justified by saying that Frankfurt had to be made more
attractive for high-quality service industries from abroad. While
the city had a reputation as an international financial centre,
its lack of striking urban eye-catchers meant that it could not
really occupy a top position among its rivals. The architect responsible
for the project, Helmut Jahn, described his concept as a container
for 21st century society, which would unite culture, services
and residence in a single visionary urban form.
We land in Berlin, where we shall pursue the manufacture of the
label Young Berlin Art. Even the functionaries of the label proclaimed
this spring that Young Berlin Art was now only the latest-but-one
thing. We shall see that the neo-liberal understanding of
creating a public as marketing practice is now being translated
both by the state and private sectors into a form of modern nationalism.
This could hardly be captured more precisely than in Malcolm McLarens
description of the model for the German location label, Brit-Pop:
Today our culture can be summed up by these two words
authenticity and karaoke... Karaoke is mouthing the words of other
peoples songs, singing someone elses lyrics... Life
by proxy, liberated by hindsight... Karaoke is the good clean fun
for the millennial nuclear family... Here in Cool Britannia
where I live, everyone is a celebrity because the nation (whatever
it is) is such a star that everyone who lives in it is by implication
a star as well... Tony Blair, our Prime Minister, knows this fact
very well he is in essence the first karaoke Prime Minister.
Young Berlin Art cannot be regarded independently of the simultaneous
image campaigns of Berlin speculative architecture, whose dedication
to investing in the reconstruction of the capital grew louder in
proportion to the size of the projects and the scandalous cheapness
of the land.
At the same time, reconstruction and the new Berlin
have become meta-concepts in society, which can signify both the
unification-national re-writing of divided German-German history
and the neo-liberal restructuring of companies and the state. One
cannot simply dismiss the idea that these meta-concepts and their
approach receive some support from the discussions on the New Right
in the arts pages of the Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine and Die
Zeit in the early nineties, which themselves had their roots in
the historians dispute of 1986 and continued,
having been given a new dynamic through being adopted in unexpected
quarters right up to the Frankfurt Book Fair speech by Martin
Walser in 1998, whose equivalent in the art world was provided by
Paul Maenzs statement that he was no longer proud of
being ashamed to be German.
All of Berlins cultural PR apparatus deals in the citys
special historical location-emotions (re-unification, Cold war,
Nazi thrill, the Twenties, Prussian Schinkel Neo-classicism etc.)
But it is precisely the similarity of the communication management
of major building sites and major exhibitions which reveals the
extent to which political and investment interests are intertwined
in the production of capital-city identity. An intertwining
of which it would be wrong to maintain that private capital is trying
to influence a neutral public sector for its own purposes. Rather,
what we have is a social contract between the new generation of
corporate bourgeoisie (the beneficiaries of privatisation) on the
one hand, and, on the other, a political apparatus (the beneficiaries
of nationalisation) which has undergone a process of corporate and
re-unification ideological reform. If as was described in
the digression on Benetton the production of
a public was debated as the epochal changeover from the classical
production paradigm of added-value formation, this must now be extended
to the production of an awareness of nationhood, equivalent to the
added-value-forming techniques of the post-Ford corporation by the
attachment of brand labels to all existing cultural resources. Exhibitions
like Deutschlandbilder [Pictures / Images of Germany],
Das XX. Jahrhundert [The 20th Century], the Berlin Biennale
or Children of Berlin
work together with Partner für Berlin, Gesellschaft für
Hauptstadtmarketing GmbH [Partners for Berlin, Society for
Capital City Marketing Ltd.]. This company came about as a measure
for reconceiving the marketing of Berlin as a location.
Its shareholders comprise functionaries of the city arts department,
media corporations and private firms which have invested in Berlins
property market including Daimler-Benz (debis), ABB, Siemens,
the Bredero/Fundus/Haschtmann group, Roland Ernst, and the Holtzbrinck
publishing group. Berlin had, it was said, the potential [to
become] one of 50 power regions [sic] such as Shanghai,
Atlanta, South Korea, Silicon Valley. The goal of Partners
for Berlin was for the public in Germany to take a positive
attitude to the capital city, for the investment climate in Berlin
to be positive..., for Berlin to regain its old status among the
capitals of Europe and the world.
This restoration intention mostly uses the 1920s as it political
matrix, which is often grotesquely over-played. Although in Berlin
much is made of the difference between conservative
institutions and the young art scene, the identity of the communication
marketing and the partners of Young Berlin Art
is unmistakable. Berlin is a city... whose geographical location
and recent political history mean it is associated throughout the
world with the start of a new political world order.
The Berlin Biennale opened in this tone in 1998, the same time as
the Kunstmesse art forum and the Sensation exhibition in Hamburg
Station, the latter bearing the mark of the Britpop example. One
day later, the debis complex on Potsdamer Platz was inaugurated,
and on the next day, the anniversary of unification, the galleries
staged their concerted action campaign. This holding
of cultural events on national holidays is even being continued
with the Children of Berlin exhibition in New York: In a series
of events, The New Berlin introduces itself to New York
on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
The activities focus... on the young art scene in the capital, said
the managing director of the Partners for Berlin marketing
company, Volker Hassemer, who is authorised to speak here on behalf
of Children of Berlin. City Arts Minister Peter Radunski
(CDU) will... open... the exhibition... One day later, the consul-general
of the Federal Republic of Germany and the marketing company are
issuing invitations to a Berlin Dinner... at which young
artists and media entrepreneurs from the German capital and from
New York will meet.
A sightseeing tour through Mitte, the central district of Berlin:
in contrast to the historical matrices of bohème and city
they extend from the Situationist Internationals to the London
club scene which arose between the poles of social struggle
or social misery, Mitte has been from the outset a liberty,
occupied by initiatives, self-organised clubs, project-brokers and
junior partners at the same time, without the small but pronounced
time-shift which otherwise characterises gentrification processes.
The scene-formation memoirs of Young Berlin Art in the catalogues
of the Berlin Biennale and Children of Berlin
are imbued with legality in the same carefree way in which young
West German enterprises described their Zero Hour origins while
repressing their fascist continuities. Only now things are more
dynamic: demonstrate a vitalist synergy of initiatives, come together,
be in progress, ignoring the agreements and connexions between big
capital and the new political apparatus, as if in order to manufacture
the empirical objectivity, the autonomy of a laboratory situation,
in which once again the free play of forces is demonstrated, in
which market economy designs itself from itself. The Mitte district
is often described in memoirs with the attribute empty,
which suggests a neutral area for experimentation, but in fact means
not being defined as private property. In this definition process,
which at the same time is a process of extinguishing the non-private-enterprise
history of the GDR, Mitte is instinctively associated with the government
label neue Mitte [new centre, Third Way].
No distinctions are any longer made between culture management,
clubs, media companies, sponsors and artistic production or party-political
Two examples of concrete business relationships.
Following this highly exhaustive reply to the editors questions,
we should like to end by appending two concrete examples to these
ideas of sponsorship.
1. The draft contract of the Arts Sponsorship Working Group
The current draft of a sponsorship contract by the German Industry
Working Group on Arts Sponsorship shows extremely clearly the extent
to which private business believes artistic practice to be capable
of providing services. When the sponsorship discussion turns to
interference rights and speaker positions, it has not hitherto been
made clear in spite of the apparent public negotiability
of the matter how great a say sponsors imagine they will
in fact get in return for what financial support. The Working Group
was formed in 1993, in order firstly to create a lobby to press
for tax relief for sponsorship activities, and secondly to organise
symposiums and congresses which were, over the years, to test public
acceptance of the conditions and claims which companies could demand
of their sponsorship partners. It would take us too far from our
subject to pursue the demands and the lobbying made by this Working
Group and its publications (the White Paper, the Green Paper, the
Blue Paper). They culminate in a sense in the current draft contract,
which the Group has recently published.
The striking thing about this draft document is that it defines
mutual transaction in a very one-sided fashion; this
definition comes in a detailed and far-reaching catalogue of demands
on the part of the sponsor. The demands are as follows:
§ 1 Exclusive rights to sponsorship: here at least the possibility
of co-sponsorship is conceded.
§ 2 Advertising rights: Indications on admission tickets,
invitation cards, exhibition posters, other posters, leaflets, websites
etc. A mention in the exhibition catalogue. There is no suggestion
that this package can be split up.
- Special admission rights to the exhibition; special guided tours
for company-relevant persons, in the context of which
particular attention is to be drawn to the role of the sponsor once
more. It should be noted that these tours, which serve the purposes
of internal Corporate Identity, are to be provided by the institution,
which thus becomes an executive arm of this Corporate Identity.
- The right of the sponsor to make a speech of welcome at the inauguration
of the exhibition. This represents a direct interference in the
autonomy of the artistic sphere.
- The right to film and photograph the exhibition, and to use the
result for the companys own communication. This
communication is totally beyond the control of the recipient institution.
What goes into this communication, in what form and in what tone,
are matters that need to be subject to negotiation and defined more
- The right to use the title Sponsor of the xyz Exhibition
for the period of the sponsorship, and to use the official logo
of the exhibiting institution a grossly vulgar and arrogant
attitude, but one which ultimately only redounds to the discredit
of the sponsor.
- Appropriate mention of the sponsor in press releases: The
press platform shall... be fitted out in such a way that the support
of the sponsor receives due attention... Representatives of the
sponsor shall be given the opportunity to make statements at press
conferences... The sponsor shall in addition have the right after
prior consultation... to distribute information material regarding
its products to representatives of the press. Press conferences
are held primarily to explain the event and its content. They are
often an important and sensitive component of the institutional
and artistic work at the same time. The idea of welcoming speeches
by middle managers, who have no specialist knowledge of the subject
of the exhibition, and furthermore, are occupied in distributing
advertising brochures, is so gross that it could even have the effect
of damaging the companys image.
The obligations of the sponsor are by no means so clearly formulated.
It is striking that payments are always to be made in instalments,
so that the sponsor retains the possibility of control throughout
the various phases of the project, and the institution, having performed
its costing in advance, remains dependent on the sponsor.
§ 4 is the only section to formulate a certain protection for
artistic independence. It prohibits any direct advertising measures
in connexion with the exhibits themselves. This definition of independence
thus relates exclusively to the works of art. It demonstrates a
totally obsolete understanding of artistic processes.
2. The contract negotiations for the Messe 2ok fair
Very few artists or curators intervene critically in sponsorship
discussions. This points either to unsullied faith in the continuation
of state subsidies, or to the fear of getting into bad odour with
future financial backers. Thus there are unfortunately few examples
in which draft contracts have been put forward on the initiative
of artists or art institutions. And yet these drafts, even if they
are not accepted, serve to formulate a view of what is right and
proper and one which is diametrically opposed to that set
out above. One example is represented by the negotiations between
the Siemens Culture Programme and the Messe 2ok arts
The Siemens Culture Programme offered the organisers of the Messe
2ok sponsorship to the tune of 40,000 deutschmarks; a contract
was proposed, which, as the basis of co-operation, listed the following
- the independence of the organisers vis-à-vis the sponsor
was to be preserved; the sponsor was not entitled to exercise any
influence regarding the content of the individual contributions
to the event, nor on the total image of the event;
- the public-relations measures were to be independent of the Siemens
Culture Programme. Particularly in the arts sphere, image
is put across largely by prior announcements using various media:
advertisements, invitation cards, posters, the arts press etc. In
this process, media practice is dictated to the artists, whether
they are attached to the sponsor or to the institutions, as expertise
whose basis cannot be questioned. Hence the demand for the inclusion
of the following points in the contract:
1. Press conferences and releases were to be left to the organisers;
no public relations material was to be produced or distributed by
the Siemens Culture Programme.
2. The production and distribution of invitation cards or posters
was to be left to the judgement of the organisers.
In return, the sponsor was to be mentioned, and its logo placed,
on all relevant printed material, and the company was offered the
right to use the event in all its own communications. These three
rights were, however, to be the subject of more detailed negotiation.
Further points were:
- The limitation of the company to a purely financial promotion
role. This was directed against the demand by the Siemens
Culture Programme to turn this role into an initiative of its own
and to describe it officially using the formulation An initiative
of... After all, the event was not initiated by
- the right to involve other sponsors
- the contractual status of the negotiations for the totality of
There was a spoken agreement on these two points at first, but they
were rejected in the concrete negotiations on the contract.
It became obvious that what the sponsors were demanding was:
- global mailing in Siemens envelopes; press relations to be under
the control of the company;
- rejection of organisers independence, i.e. interference
in the organisation
- an obligation to pass on all information relevant to the event.
When in the fourth round of negotiations the conditions were not
accepted, the organisers rejected any co-operation.
These two examples show what sort of effect the ideological debates
can have on the actual relations between sponsor and the institution
seeking sponsorship. It is our urgent desire that institutions and
artistic intermediaries take a greater role in sponsorship negotiations.
This does not mean passing demands through on the nod, nor does
it mean idealistic rejection gestures, but rather a self-confident
commitment to the values and moral awareness of an independent
cultural statement, and not least to the rights of all those involved
beyond worries about their jobs and budgets. What is urgently needed
are solidarity concepts and lobby strategies between the artistic
institutions and associations, without getting into a disadvantageous
position vis-à-vis state and private backers as a result
of fear of mutual competition. This demand may sound naive in an
area where solidarity has always meant a loss of profile. But it
should take account of the fact that if solidarity were to happen
nonetheless, this brief advantage must be exploited, in which
triggered by the astonishment of the business that typical
mix of alternative models and corporate
comes about, before the agents and the newly won-over take their
conventional places once more.
Mauricio Lazzarato, Benetton und Berlusconi, in: Die Beute, 2/95.
At the same time, the discussions of the Italian theoreticians
Lazzarato, Negri et al., who stood in the Operaist tradition,
an alternative to the conventional Marxist economic critique,
in which the concept of work was still the central category of
added-value production, a thesis which in view of the divergence
between unemployment figures and profits charts is becoming less
and less tenable. Cf. the continuing discussion on the end
of work, Jungle World, 1st half 2000
Creischer / Siekmann: Reformmodelle, loc.cit.
Neil George Weiland, Rechtliche Aspekte der Sponsoring, in Neue
Juristische Wochenzeitschrift, No. 4, 1995
Rupert Graf Strachwitz: Corporate Community Investment, in: Leitfaden
für Sponsoring und Eventmarketing, ed. Hans-Willy Brockes,
Düsseldorf 1995. Strachwitz is managing director of the sponsorship
agency Mäcenata GmbH, and lobbyist in various initiatives.
Klaus Ronneberger, in Andreas Siekmann: Aus Gesellschaft mit beschränkter
Haftung, ed. Prikus, Frankfurt a. M. 2000
Malcolm McLaren: Karaokeworld, in Nu, No. 1, Copenhagen,1999
We can unfortunately not go more deeply here into the capital-city
fantasies resulting from the restructuring of Berlin. They are
revealed for example in the rehabilitation of late 19th century
and national-socialist models in the New-Berlin city planning
debates. Let us mention here just one of the numerous examples
of image production, to stand in for the rest. Debis (the services
subsidiary of Daimler Benz) organised, on the occasion of its
topping-out ceremony, parades of workers through the Brandenburg
Gate, something that was strongly reminiscent of GDR agitprop
(cf. Christiane Post: Proletarische Kultur, ANYP 8, Berlin 1997).
Many political and artistic groupings protested vehemently against
capital-city architecture and Berlin city planning
in the 1990s, cf. Baustopp/Randstadt, ed. Neue Gesellschaft für
Bildende Kunst, Berlin 1998.
The issue in question was the comparability of national socialist
with Soviet crimes, in which the historian Nolte went a step further
and implied that the concentration camps were only a reaction
to the Soviet Gulags. Nolte has recently been awarded a prize.
This bon mot is obviously reference to the motto of the new German
right: Im proud to be a German, quoted by Peter
Herbstreuth, Keine Angst vor Blitzgewitter, Tagesspiegel, 17.12.98.
Paul Maenz, one of the central gallery owning figures on the Cologne
scene in the 1980s, is now, with his collecting activity and his
art-business background one of the authorities on the Mitte
[Berlin] art scene.
Deutschlandbilder, curated by Eckhardt Gillen, Berlin 1997: Deutschlandbilder
saw itself as the first comprehensive presentation of the development
of art in the two German states since 1933, and was intended in
addition to prove a continuity of a search for national identity,
by accusing a politically correct consensus of repressing
Das XX. Jahrhundert, curated by Joachim Schuster, Berlin 1998
both exhibitions undertook a comprehensive look at West
and East German art, aiming for the national homogenisation of
cultural developments in East and west Germany.
Berlin Biennale, curated by Klaus Biesenbach, 1998
Children of Berlin, ditto, New York, PS 1, 1999 these two
exhibitions saw themselves as the start-up of Young Berlin Art.
Matthew D. Rose, Berlin, Hauptstadt von Filz und Korruption, Munich,
Der Tagesspiegel, 22.10.99
Children of Berlin, ed. Miriam Wisel / Peter Herbstreuth, Berlin
Berlin/Berlin, catalogue of the Berlin Biennale, Stuttgart 1998
The draft can be found at http://www.bdi-online.de under Organisationen;
Partnerorganisationen Kulturkreis der Deutschen Wirtschaft
The draft contracts and a report on the negotiations can be seen
in ÖkonoMiese machen, loc.cit.