PERTH’S giant Christmas ornament festival will be renamed the ‘Rio Tinto Christmas Lights Trail’ after Perth councillors sold the naming rights to the mining giant for $250,000.
Arts and events organisations have been grappling over the ethics of accepting mining company sponsorship in recent years over concerns the companies were using sponsorship to rehabilitate their public image.
Rio Tinto especially came under sharper focus of those calling for boycotts following its 2020 destruction of the 46,000 year old rock shelters at the significant Aboriginal site Juukan Gorge.
But most Perth councillors thought the $250,000 deal was too good to pass up.
They’re currently trying to raise $1m in sponsorship and grants for this year’s Christmas trail, and advertised the naming rights sale in May by offering “46 days of exposure”, the chance to be seen by some 400,000 visitors, and “an exclusive opportunity to be associated with Christmas in our beautiful capital of Light”.
They got one bite from Rio Tinto, and in return for the $250,000 they’ll include the new name and branding
in all marketing material and communications about the event.
Lord mayor Basil Zempilas has been a vocal supporter of selling naming rights as a way to run events without charging ratepayers more.
Only one councillor opposed the plan, with Cr Sandy Anghie saying “while I think it’s a great initiative to sell the naming rights to the light show, in the context of how much the city spends on the Christmas Lights Trail I would have thought the naming rights [price] should have been a higher amount”.
by DAVID BELL