Thank You or No Thank You?

Posted on: January 12th, 2012

Corporate sponsorship for museums & galleries is hugely significant in funding the institution’s upcoming projects. Major arts institutions in London, including the British Museum, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery have recently renewed the £10m BP sponsorship they receive. At the British Museum, the sponsorship will be used for their annual exhibitions. The National Portrait Gallery will continue its hugely popular annual BP Portrait Award and Tate Britain will use the money to fund a rehang of the collection. Millions of people attend and enjoy these sponsored exhibitions, awards and new displays, all of which maintain London’s international reputation as a centre os arts. However, members of the public, environmentalist groups and artist collectives, including the group Liberate Tate are angry over BP’s involvement in the arts.

Tate Britain has been the focus of several protests by Liberate Tate, their reason being the Tate’s self proclaimed position as a forward-thinking, environmentally aware institution. In view of this Liberate Tate believe sponsorship of the gallery by a corporate entity like BP is obviously incongruous. The group hoped their concerns would be considered by the trustees of the Tate when the decision for renewal was made. However, despite the concerns the Tate decided to renew, leading Liberate Tate to believe that the gallery is knowingly making itself complicit in their operations.

Essentially Liberate Tate wants to ‘Liberate’ the Tate from its damaging relationship with BP. Liberate Tate stated that they are not against private sponsorship, but that more consideration should go into choosing ethical corporate sponsorship. However, when there has been inadequate funding from other spheres, BP’s continued support for the last 20 years has allowed our nation’s art institutions to flourish. So, do we say thank you or no thank you to BP for their involvement in the arts?