This column would not be possible without the generous support and inspiration of (YOUR NAME HERE). That's just one of the many perks you will receive if you become my sponsor. I might also be able to offer you part of my byline.
I got the idea from the Atlanta Ballet, which got the idea from medieval monarchs and the church -- sort of the original arts sponsors. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, seven of the 14 largest ballet companies in the nation offer individuals the chance to "buy" dancers, sometimes at an auction. Prices range from $2,500 to $100,000. It's nice to know that in America, sponsorship isn't just for big corporations anymore. Of course, no one knows what you get for your sponsorship dollars, other than an autographed picture and a chance to meet your dancer. I don't think you get to order them around or make them rub your feet or anything like that.
Just for the record, I won't rub your feet, either. Or entertain you. But I will entertain your ideas. And if I use any of them, millions of readers will be exposed to your ideas. That's the kind of value and power you can expect from a sponsorship of Jim Sollisch. Just think, if you sponsor me for $10,000 and one of your ideas ends up in a column, which is read by a million readers, you've paid just one cent per impression. Wow, that's impressive.
And I sure could use the $10,000. The newspaper you're holding in your hands paid me $200 for this column. And while I do get the value of communicating my ideas to all those readers, I would be happy to trade some of my influence for some of your cash.
As a freelance writer, I deserve your patronage much more than a ballet dancer does. They're on a salary. Plus they don't need much to live on because they don't eat anything but salad. I'm a writer. I need alcohol and good cigars and lots of overpriced Starbucks coffee.
But let's get back to you and the benefits of sponsorship. The Nashville Ballet's Web site offers this advice: "Don't know what to get the person who has everything? Give them the unique gift of a dancer. They will be the envy of their friends." Well, when I get a Web site, which, by the way, will feature your name animated in some really cool flash type, I will ask visitors, "Wouldn't it be great to have someone to write your thank-you notes?" There will be a button you can click on to read some samples of my thank you-note writing. My Aunt Charlotte still has a note I wrote her thanking her for the book "Jewish Sports Heroes," which she got me for my bar mitzvah.
At the $25,000 level, I will ghostwrite your children's or grandchildren's school themes. (Sorry, I don't do research papers.) I'd also be happy to throw in a few love letters. I can do them in verse if you prefer. Try getting your finicky, inarticulate prima ballerina to do that for you.
Jim Sollisch is a writer in Cleveland.