Chapter Five

The Bank of Music

Jazz Sells, Mark LAver, Grinnell

In this chapter, I examine the rationale for and implications of TD Bank’s sponsorship of the major Canadian jazz festivals. I begin by discussing the practice of sponsorship itself as an advertising strategy, and offer a very brief survey of the history of this unique species of marketing from the early days of radio, through the early days of television, up to the present day. After outlining the history of Canadian jazz festivals up to the inception of the TD title sponsorship arrangement, I examine the Bank’s intertwined motivations for taking on the jazz festival sponsorship: their “comfort” brand positioning, their engagement with local communities, their promotion of cultural diversity, and their support of artistic excellence. Next, I look at some of the tensions that have developed through TD’s sponsorship, and theorize the jazz-banking articulation—and the practice of arts sponsorship in general—vis à vis Milton Friedman’s notion of capitalist amorality. Finally, I consider what the web of relationships that develops between sponsors and audiences in jazz festivals about the character of “false consciousness:” following Žižek, I contend that the utopianism that emerges in corporately-sponsored jazz festivals reveals “false consciousness” to be a voluntary condition, one that potentially allows us to gloss real social traumas, thereby inviting us to abdicate the social responsibilities entailed in democratic citizenship and entrust them to corporations.

Other Links:

“Behind the Scenes” Community Song – TD Bank Canada

“National Beat” Community Song – TD Bank Canada