Cowes Week means many things to many people. For some, it is a week of racing. For some it is a week of drinking. For others it is a few moments of Oooohs and Ahhhhhhs as the event finishes with a bang of fireworks.
In the good times, the fireworks were taken for granted. No-one really worried too much about who was paying for them. It was tradition. Fireworks were the end of the event, and people came from far and wide to enjoy the spectacle – some of whom have no interest whatsoever in sailing or Cowes Week.
In more recent years, without the support of a title sponsor, questions were rightly asked about who benefited most from the fireworks and who was paying for them. A totally unscientific straw poll of the beer tent in 2010 suggested that the vast majority of competitors at Cowes Week couldn’t care if they never saw fireworks again. The answers were even more vehement when the topic of entry fees supporting the funding of the fireworks was raised.
In 2011, the event has a new title sponsor. Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week will benefit from some corporate cash, however event organisers are looking for donations to help fund the fireworks.
For Aberdeen Asset Managemet, the sponsorship of Cowes Week is about international awareness and promoting to the individuals in their hospitality tent and owners of boats. In that sense, the sponsorship funds serve Aberdeen best by reducing entry fees and supporting the competitors rather than the greater Isle of Wight community.
The conflict between the funding of the fireworks and the beneficiaries of the fireworks is evident by reading the copy on the Cowes Week website:
For the last few years, the display has been part-funded by a very generous anonymous donor as well as by contributions from those businesses that benefit from the display and the individuals who enjoy it.
For 2011, we are fortunate to be working with Aberdeen Asset Management as the title sponsor of Cowes Week. Both Aberdeen and Cowes Week Limited will be making significant contributions towards this year’s fireworks display but organisers are once again looking to the community, as beneficiaries of the display, to play their part in securing the 2011 fireworks by making a financial contribution to the display.
If you are passionate about the fireworks, please play your part in securing the display.
But who is the biggest beneficiary? Perhaps not the residents of Cowes who get a ‘Free’ show, but rather – the commercial companies that transport people to and from Cowes on the evening, sellers of food and drink, anyone who has sold hospitality that includes the fireworks.
Who stands to lose the most if the fireworks were not to happen? Not Cowes Week – at least not in the short term. Those who are there to sail all day and party all night will still come. However there is a more lasting impact on the event if it is seen not to be able to afford the fireworks at the end of the event. How can the largest sailing event of its kind in the world not close the week with a bang?