Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whose bread I eat, his song I sing


Yesterday's post started out investigating classical music's dependancy on funding from the banking and financial services industries. But it uncovered the for me surprising fact that sponsorship by tobacco companies is still widespread in classical music. In the post I identified the London Philharmonic and Ulster Orchestras and Salzburg Whitsun Festivals as receiving money from Japan Tobacco International, who are the world's third largest cigarette company. Now I have found that the legendary Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg has been a long-term recipient of Japan Tobacco International money. In their 2009 annual report (page 54) the cigarette company explains:
'Our financial commitment has enabled the complete [Mariinsky] orchestra and soloists to travel to the UK to perform concerts at the Barbican theatre, enabling the world-renowned performances to reach an international audience.'
Content remaining on the Barbican website relating to the 2009 performances does not identify Japan Tobacco International's funding of the Mariinsky tour. But this path leads further. For instance the 2009 Glyndebourne Festival annual report lists under corporate supporters 'JTI'. Possibly not coincidentally a newspaper recently reported that the UK parliamentary register of members’ interests shows Japan Tobacco International spent £23,000 entertaining 20 MPs in the past six months.

I suspect this is not the end of the path and more information from readers on tobacco funding for classical music would be appreciated. In the meantime I offer this quote from Cancer Research UK:
It is estimated that one in two regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their tobacco habit, half of these in middle age. Over the last 50 years, six million Britons have died from tobacco-related diseases, three million of whom died in middle age (15-69) losing on average 20 years of life.
You say Mariinsky - I say Mravinsky.

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4 comments:

Mark Berry said...

There is also, of course, the little matter of his links with Vladimir Putin, which have re-surfaced today, in what reports suggest was an extraordinary contribution to the Prime Minister's annual phone-in...

Pliable said...

Thanks Mark, here is the link - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/dec/15/vladimir-putin-question-and-answer-session-in-russia-live

Unknown said...

In Australia tobacco sponsorship of cultural events was banned in 1992 - existing sponsorships were allowed to run their course but there could be no new ones. Now alcohol sponsorships, that's a different story again...

Pliable said...

Thanks for that. I had read recent reports of Australia's 'plain packaging' law for cigarettes with much interest.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15670297