So, thanks to a cash injection from Mastercard, the Olivier Awards are to be relaunched. When were they unlaunched? According to the presspack, the awards were named in 1984 after Sir Laurence Olivier,
“One of the greatest stage actors of the 20th century. His breathtaking skill as an actor, his charisma, his range of interests within the profession – as actor, as director and as first artistic director of the National Theatre company – all make him an ideal figurehead for the London stage”
Indeed, and the artistic aims of the National Theatre include aspiring to “reflect in its repertoire the diversity of the nation’s culture”. But not it seems the diversity of its credit cards. In a move reminiscent of the scandal created over Visa’s handling of its sponsorship of the Olympics, Mastercard have decided that only its cardholders can buy tickets for the awards show online – and in person the only plastic they will accept is Mastercard. Priceless.
If sponsoring the awards was meant to lend Mastercard a bit of kudos, they’ve spoilt the effect somewhat by crowing about it so much. The new Olivier awards website makes depressing reading. We may think a lot of things about these awards, mainly why so many of them go to shows that originate outside the West End. But we can honestly say that we have never thought to ourselves, what these awards need is a bit of glamour. And we certainly haven’t been yearning for rolling coverage of the red carpet action on the BBC red button service. By the way, what are the BBC doing colluding in this?
The really sad thing is that none of this funding is going towards concrete ways to improve the theatre experience or invest in our theatre industry. It’s all about advertising (what a surprise!), sorry, ‘development of the global profile’. If you really want to encourage foreign visitors to the West End, how about making it easier to book online without excessive credit card charges and booking fees, and endless bamboozlement with pricing policies aimed at disguising the true cost.
What would Larry think, we wonder?