Oil Multinational BP Pulls Sponsorship Deal With Tate From 2017

This is the result a number of protest groups had worked towards for a number of years, the multinational Oil company BP is now to end all sponsorship with Tate from 2017. The oil giant has expressed plans not to renew their contract with the  museums as a result of public protest which has had a negative impact on the brand. The 26-year partnership had been under scrutiny by environmental groups calling for director Sir Nicholas Serota to sever the relationship.

“We are facing an extremely challenging business environment and are reducing spending and taking many difficult decisions throughout BP,” the oil company told the Independent newspaper. “As a result we have reluctantly decided not to renew our long-term partnership with Tate Britain.”

Liberate Tate group member Yasmin De Silva said: “We’re thrilled with the news Tate is rid of BP. About 30 years ago, the tide turned on tobacco sponsorship, and now the same thing is happening to the oil industry. Of course Tate won’t rub it in BP’s face by acknowledging this decision is the result of the increasing public concern about climate change and the huge number of artists, members and gallery-goers speaking out against the controversial deal.”

The Independent, which was first to cover the story added, the challenges facing the oil industry suggests severing ties with Tate was a purely economic decision, rather than a result of pressure from activists. Tate has been targeted on a number of occasions by protests who view the partnership as unethical. Tate was in court last year when Request Initiative, Liberate Tate, and Platform groups demanded that records of BP’s sponsorship of the Tate, a publicly funded institution be revealed, under the Freedom of Information legislation.

 As a result, Tate Museums had to disclose their sponsorship funding which totalled £3.8 million ($5.4 million), in sponsorship tranches of between £150,000-£330,000 ($213,172-$468,979) per year between 1990 – 2006. Liberate Tate stated that the amount was “embarrassingly small,” and did not justify the ethical issues surrounding the deal.

A Tate spokeswoman said the sponsorship had been an “outstanding example of patronage and collaboration over nearly 30 years”. She said the company’s support “represents one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture”, and expressed gratitude to BP for its “groundbreaking support of the collection displays and other programmes”.

Shannon Wiseman, a BP spokesperson stated, “We do not have any plans to exit our other arts partnerships.” Which includes the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Science Museum. 

Image: Amy Scaife performance Human Cost Tate Britain 2011courtesy Liberate Tate.


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