The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced that the US division of Italian pharmaceutical company Chiesi (pronounced key-ay-zee) will be the first presenting sponsor for their World of Bluegrass events during 2015.
In the past, business entities have attached their names through sponsorship to portions of IBMA’s big week – PNC Bank, for instance has their name associated with the Wide Open Bluegrass festival – but this is the first overall sponsor for WOB.
Presenting sponsorships are becoming more common in sports and other forms of consumer entertainment, with venues taking on corporate names, and even large-scale music tours use such funding to cover expenses and reduce costs. In bluegrass, we are used to seeing artists travel in vehicles adorned with corporate logos
Chiesi USA, formerly known as Cornerstone Therapeutics, is based in Cary, NC, quite close to Raleigh where the World Of Bluegrass is held. They specialize in respiratory therapeutics and since they market directly to hospitals, are not well known outside the health care industry.
In fact, it was this proximity to Raleigh that first attracted the attention of Josh Franklin, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development for Chiesi. As a life-long bluegrass fan, he said that attendance was certain from the first time he heard about it.
“When we first saw the announcement about IBMA coming to Raleigh, my family and I were immediately excited, and have been there both years. My grandfather was a coal miner in eastern KY, and with what little free time he had, he loved to play bluegrass. I am very much a fan.
Seeing how firmly World Of Bluegrass has been embraced by the Raleigh community makes it a natural for our company.”
Josh said that the sponsorship was really a matter of the right time and the right event.
“One of our stated objectives in 2015 was to increase the visible presence of Chiesi USA in the local community. We were formed and developed in the Raleigh area, but we are different and unique from a lot of the other health sciences companies in this area. A number of those have been acquired by other companies as they have grown larger, and had their operations moved elsewhere.
Corresponding to that, we have a commitment to our employees and our community. Those two things came together to make this sponsorship appealing.”
So not long after the conclusion of the 2014 IBMA week in Raleigh, Franklin reached out to the IBMA’s independent sponsorship developer, Susan Woelkers, and an agreement was reached for Chiesi USA to be the 2015 Presenting Sponsor for World Of Bluegrass.
This means that their logo will be prominently placed on all literature and promotional pieces, and will in some cases listed as “Presented by Chiesi USA” in publicity materials.
Their current agreement is only officially in place for this year, but both parties expect it to extend beyond 2015.
Paul Schiminger, incoming Executive Director of IBMA says that, “we deeply appreciate their sponsorship of this event, and look forward to this being a long term relationship.”
And Josh concurs…
“We’ve only formally done 2015, but assuming that this goes as well as the others, as soon as World Of Bluegrass is over I’m sure we’ll start discussions about next year.”
Schiminger defers credit for this accomplishment to those whose hard work preceded his tenure, but it is quite a feather for both he and the organization, which specified the need to find additional outside partners in its search criteria for a new director.
More evidence that bluegrass has value within the international business community, just as it does for hardscrabble Kentuckians of every stripe.
Full detail about World Of Bluegrass, which includes the three day Business Conference, The International Bluegrass Music Awards, and the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, can be found online.
Concurrent with the announcement of the Chiesi USA presenting sponsorship, IBMA has revealed that performers at this year’s Wide Open Bluegrass will include Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, The Sam Bush Band, Earls of Leicester, The Gibson Brothers, Blue Highway, and the O’Connor Family Band.