In the midst of the ongoing drama surrounding the record-breaking oil spill in The Gulf Coast region, every action of the oil giant BP continues to be scrutinized. Most recently, this was demonstrated in the form of a protest in front of the entrance to London’s Tate Britain, where a group called The Good Crude Britannia threw an oil-like substance (most likely molasses) and feathers in protest of the gallery’s acceptance of BP’s sponsorship. Tate Britain recently hosted a party in part to celebrate the 20 years of support that BP has given.
Tate did defend BP’s efforts though, stating that the sponsorship, “has been instrumental in helping Tate develop access to the Tate Collection and to present changing displays of work by a wide range of artists in the national collection of British art”. And Tate isn’t the only institution to do so: “We are grateful to BP for their long-term commitment,” said the Royal Opera House, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, and Tate in a joint statement.
While Tate Britain argues that art institutions often have to rely on corporations for funding, the disapproval of corporate sponsorship in this case is clear. Over 170 artists signed a letter of protest that called the BP logo “a stain on the Tate’s international reputation”. Jane Trowell, from the environmental arts campaign org Platform, agrees: “BP is trying to repair its tarnished reputation and buy our approval by associating itself with culturally important institutions like Tate.” There must be an alternative way for such institutions to secure the funding they need without having to associate with socially irresponsible companies. What do you think?
Written by: Ashley Ellis