Jaguar Cars North America has launched a new sponsorship initiative to promote its redesigned flagship XJ luxury sedan.

The British import is following the lead of corporate sibling Land Rover North America, Inc. While the latter is focusing on equestrian events, skiing and adventure travel, Jaguar has set its sights on performing arts organizations, venues and related activities.

It has just completed deals with several properties, including the Hollywood Bowl and Houston Grand Opera, and is likely to seek deals with similar venues in New York City, South Florida and other key markets.

The deals represent Jaguar Cars’ first major U.S. sponsorship push since parent company Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC was acquired by Mumbai, India-based Tata Motors Ltd. nearly two years ago.

The automaker is using the sponsorship campaign to support this month’s launch of the 2011 XJ, an all-aluminum vehicle apparently designed to take on the Mercedes CL-Class and Bentley Continental. The car is priced from $72,400 to $115,000.

The new sedan is also getting sponsorship support in its home country, with Jaguar Cars Ltd. signing a new partnership with June’s London Jewellery Week.

On both sides of the Atlantic, Jaguar is activating its ties through on-site vehicle display and ride-and-drive programs. Jaguar will leverage London Jewellery Week by transporting designers, actors, TV personalities and other VIPs in a fleet of XJ vehicles.

Additional leveraging could include the hosting of networking events with affluent arts patrons.

The U.S. program is spearheaded by national and regional Jaguar marketing execs, including Glenn Drake, western regional sales and marketing manager, and Sharon Corrigan, vice president of marketing. Corrigan began in that position in December.

Jaguar’s other U.S. sponsorships largely emanate from dealers, including The Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, N.Y. and the Toshiba Classic Champions Tour stop in Newport Beach, Calif.

The automaker has a lot riding on the new XJ, one of only three models it sells in the U.S.

With only the XF sports sedan (starting at $53,000 and the XK coupe and convertible (starting at $83,000) available, Jaguar sold just 896 vehicles in April, down 30 percent from the same month in ’09. Land Rover sales were up 35 percent to 2,749 units in April, resulting in an overall 10 percent sales increase for Jaguar Land Rover North America.

Tata purchased the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. in June ’08. The company subsequently moved its North American headquarters from Irvine, Calif. to Mahwah, N.J.

The sponsorship initiative also helps breathe new life into the arts sector, a property category that has seen many defections by troubled auto companies over the past two years.