Creative Focus: Creative sponsorship gives aid across the Web

Ben Knox is the managing director of Direct Connection, an ISP that has put a great deal of effort in supporting cultural events and organisations on the Net.

Direct Connection's company ethos states: "The Internet is a medium to be exploited by all sections of society." To support this statement we have an extensive arts and charity based web-site sponsorship programme, designed to encourage diversity on-line. This philosophy, to some extent, mirrors the general ethos of the World Wide Web, which lends itself to freedom of access and information to all.

Web-site sponsorship encourages organisations not traditionally associated with Information Technology to experiment and explore the Internet's potential. The Internet is an extremely powerful medium for communication and is ideally suited for creative expression.

One such organisation which has been quick to utilise the Web's potential is the English National Ballet. A classical ballet company which tours nationally and internationally from its studio base in London. The company aspires to take popular ballet to the widest geographical audience, at a price everyone can afford. The web-site contains background on the Company's work and articles from current theatre programmes. The site also publishes forthcoming attraction leaflets, performance schedules, casting information, educational resources for teachers, biographies of all current dancers and current press releases.

The English National Ballet Web site, takes full advantage of the Internet's capacity for inter-activity. According to Louise Skelly, Marketing Assistant at the Company, the discussion pages have proved very popular with ballet lovers, professionals within the industry and students seeking advice from a professional ballet company. There is also an opportunity for Internet users to write their own reviews. The next addition to the web-site will be an on-line box office, which gives users the opportunity to book their tickets via the Internet. The seats available will be among the best at the theatre and will only be available to Internet users, thus giving them a priority booking facility. It also means users will avoid paying any booking fees.

The Young Vic Theatre company is another forward thinking organisation supported through sponsorship of its Web site. Founded by Lord Olivier and Frank Dunlop in 1970, its aim is to tell stories and create events that embrace children, youths and adults in one experience. The theatre now enjoys a national and increasingly international reputation for the quality of its work. Its highly acclaimed Christmas show, ‘Grimm Tales' will open on New York's Broadway in November, while at home, in a co-production with Out of Joint, the Young Vic will present a revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker's acclaimed modern classic ‘Our Country's Good' from September 10th.

John Nicholls, Development Director at the Young Vic states: "With our particularly young and IT literate audience base, we recognise the power of being able to communicate with our patrons via e-mail, and the opportunities that the web offers in terms of being able to showcase all aspects of our work. Having a presence on the web is also a fundamental part of our on-going education and audience development programmes. Many people, young and old, do not see theatre as being something they might enjoy and indeed learn from. Our web-site aims to demystify theatre and present it as an environment which is exciting and welcoming."

In addition to the English National Ballet and the Young Vic, Companies like ours are increasingly becoming involved in supporting charitable causes, including hosting the web sites for organisations like the Terence Higgins Trust , NSPCC, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. In addition, sponsorship for a number of cultural events and organisations is becoming increasingly common. A full list of Direct Connection's sponsored organisations, including hot links, can be found on our Web site.