Perrier Comedy Awards Renamed for New SponsorDate: 14 June 2006
It’s one of the most recognised names in comedy but, from this August, the Perriers will no longer be the Perriers. After 25 years, and one of the longest sponsorships in awards history, the drinks company is relinquishing its claim on the Oscars of the comedy world. The awards, bestowed to stand-ups each August at the Edinburgh Fringe, will now be sponsored by Scotland-based mortgage company Intelligent Finance and will henceforth be known as the “if.comeddies”.
Speaking at a press conference this morning at the West End’s Lyric Theatre, where award winners and nominees will present their acts post-festival, the awards producer Nica Burns described the five-year-old Intelligent Finance, a subsidiary of Halifax plc, which merged with the Bank of Scotland in September 2001, as a “perfect fit for us… young, dynamic and innovative” as well as “rooted in Scotland but with a national profile”.
In unveiling the awards’ new name and logo, Burns said: “In renaming the awards, we wanted to find a name that would quickly become synonymous with the celebration of comedy in Edinburgh and one that would easily be adopted by our audiences. Our new name therefore incorporates three things: Edinburgh, the name of our new sponsor, the word comedy – and taking our cue from the Oscars and the Tonys – a friendly personification.”
Burns would not disclose the value of the new sponsorship beyond saying it represented a “sizeable amount” of money. Mark Parker, the managing director of Intelligent Finance added that, although the length of the initial contract was just three years, his company viewed the arrangement as a “long-term commitment”. “We hope it’s going to be a great marriage not just a good partnership,” he said.
Following a major review in consultation with artists and others in the comedy industry, Burns will be making other changes to the annual awards. In the past, the main prize for the Perriers - for which winners are selected from the pool of talent performing at the annual Edinburgh Fringe, the world's largest arts festival - comprises a trophy, a cheque for £7,500 and the chance to be included in the awards’ West End season. There’s also a second prize for Best Newcomer.
In the new awards, a new prize will be introduced and the total money in the prize pot will be increased. In addition, more support will be given to winning and nominated artists to take their acts further beyond Edinburgh. Previous Perrier winners, who have gone on to major success, have include Jenny Eclair (currently performing at the Lyric in her show Grumpy Old Women), Lee Evans, Al Murray, Frank Skinner, Steven Coogan, Sean Hughes and the League of Gentlemen.
This year’s 60th annual Edinburgh Fringe runs from 6 to 28 August (See News, 8 Jun 2006). The comedy award winners are announced at the end of the festival.
- by Terri Paddock