Not just a stab in the dark

Top 10 accountancy firm Mazars’ headline sponsorship of Bloody Scotland is part of a wider move to bring books to the boardroom explains Peter Jibson, managing partner Scotland of Mazars

Corporate sponsorship of the arts has fallen in the recession as businesses are becoming more selective about the exhibitions and institutions they support. Moreover, in contrast to sponsorship of world-renowned museums, corporations often view funding for regional projects as riskier investments due to the uncertainty of the return. In light of all this, funding for the literary arts is often overlooked, despite the fact that literature is more popular and accessible to the public than elite art institutions.

When global accountancy firm Mazars announced in 2012 that it would sponsor the inaugural crime-writing festival, Bloody Scotland, eyebrows were raised across the corporate community. Yet, much is to be gained by both sides if the private sector and the literary world can forge stronger bonds and recognise the long-term benefits.

This weekend, Bloody Scotland welcomed thousands of visitors and an impressive line-up of Scottish, UK and international crime-writing authors to Stirling for the second time. Last year’s event was the first time the specialist literary genre was celebrated north of the border with its own festival and there was an overwhelmingly positive response from both crime writers and enthusiasts. Crime fiction and thrillers are the most popular literary genres among Scottish readers, and the participation of internationally renowned authors, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Jo Nesbo and Lee Child, presented an incentive for Mazars and the community to celebrate Scotland’s prominent place in the literary field.

Mazars recognised early on that Bloody Scotland would be a ground-breaking event showcasing the literary strength of Scotland.  It is with this impetus that the firm actively sought out the opportunity to be the headline sponsor of last year’s festival and after the success of 2012, which saw over 4,000 visitors, have chosen to sponsor the event again. Whereas other multi-national corporations may have had reservations sponsoring a first-time literary festival, the public’s interest and desire to celebrate a key aspect of Scotland’s cultural landscape inspired Mazars to support this unique venture. Additionally, Mazars has a strong client base in the publishing sector, and was attuned to the rising popularity of crime fiction amongst colleagues, clients and others in the business community. The firm recently hosted spin-off events in Glasgow and Edinburgh, featuring Christopher Brookmyre and William McIlvanney, to meet the increasing interest in crime fiction.

It is important for businesses to invest in the communities that they serve. Showcasing the literary strength of 'brand Scotland' and promoting home-grown talent to a global audience aligns with Mazars’ own business aspirations. When correctly executed, the relationship between art and business is mutually beneficial—cultural organisations need the funding to continue their work, and the sponsor will benefit from a cost-effective form of brand promotion. And of course, the community reaps the benefits of stimulating cultural programmes.

We look forward to next year where Bloody Scotland will continue to flourish.