It’s a great day for the climate movement as news breaks that BP’s controversial sponsorship of the Tate Modern is set to end this year!
The victory comes after years of pressure from artists, gallery-goers and activists to drop the toxic brand, with some of the most beautiful and creative interventions in recent years from art collective Liberate Tate.
The in-situ oil spills, ‘gift’ installations of giant turbine blades, overnight inscriptions of climate messages across the gallery floor, live climate-mark tattooing and many other interventions have been an inspiration to dissenters around the world.
The trademark black veil and composure gave a fresh perspective of arts and activism, and ensured that oil sponsorship of the arts has been a live debate, forced squarely and consistently onto Tate’s agenda.
And today that work has paid off.
The Tate Modern is the first in a series of upcoming decisions about art sponsorship in the UK, at a moment when ‘cultural divestment’ is taking off around the world. The international ‘Fossil Free Culture’ was launched in Paris with an action at the Louvre, with action set to escalate over 2016.
Disentangling our leading cultural institutions from their dirty money and logos – divesting our culture – is a key part of this strategy and the broader fossil free divestment movement.
Yasmin De Silva of Liberate Tate says:
“We’re thrilled with the news Tate is rid of BP. About thirty 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 about against the controversial deal.
“BP is a company whose business model depends on trashing the climate, and it shouldn’t receive credibility by being associated with our most-cherished cultural institutions. April will see the sixth anniversary of the start of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, we think of all the people around the world who have suffered the impacts of BP’s operations and can now know that Tate will no longer wipe its name clean.
It’s time for other institutions sponsored by BP, Shell and other oil companies – like National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and British Museum – to follow Tate’s lead and end their deals.”
— Liberate Tate (@liberatetate) March 11, 2016
A full statement and more details on the win can be found on the Liberate Tate website.