BP’s Tate sponsorship a ‘stain’ on the arts

A leading professional organisation for people working in the sustainable water industry is demanding museums and galleries turn their back on BP's millions.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) has today (June 28) reserved special criticism for the management of the Tate museums for accepting BP funding.

BP has had a sponsorship agreement in place with the Tate, which includes the two London galleries Tate Britain and Tate Modern as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, for two decades – but the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has outraged environmentalists around the world.

Pulling no punches in his attack Nick Reeves, CIWEM’s executive director, brands BP support for the arts a ‘stain’.

In letters to both Tate director, Sir Nick Serota, and to the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Jeremy Hunt, he demands an end to the ‘tyranny’ of oil patronage.

He said: “Art is the highest form of human expression and has the power to alter human behaviour.

“Public arts institutions have a duty of care – that cuts across all other considerations – to ensure they promote positive messages on the environment and avoid partnerships that undermine the credibility of those messages.

“Our letters call on the trustees and director of Tate to put a halt to the tyranny of oil patronage and we further call on the Mr Hunt to use his powers as the responsible minister to ensure this happens.”

Mr Reeves went on to say CIWEM ‘deplores the continuing acceptance of guilt monies and influence from the petro-carbon industries, as this sullies the arts, and undermines our cultural institutions’.

A spokesman for the Tate said BP remains ‘one of the most important sponsors’ as well helping to fund other leading cultural institutions.

He said: “Tate works with a wide range of corporate organisations and generates the majority of its funding from earned income and private sources.

“The support that these organisations give is extremely important and allows us to deliver a hugely successful and popular programme.

“The Tate trustees first agreed a sponsorship policy in 1991, and more recently incorporated its principles within an Ethics Policy in 2008.

“The board and ethics committee regularly review compliance with the policy BP has worked with Tate since 1990 and fits within the guidelines of this policy.

“Its support 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.”

Luke Walsh

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