Public backlash against BP’s funding of Tate, which houses the UK’s national art collection, is raising questions about the ethics of funding partnerships. Do poorly aligned missions have such a significant impact on the art lover’s experience as to outweigh the financial benefits for the museum?
Protests concerning the sponsorship began around 2003, but more recently, the issue gained momentum following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Over 8,000 people signed a petition in 2011 calling for the Tate to end BP’s sponsorship of the gallery. Further controversy followed when public requests were made for the Tate to disclose the sum of money it was receiving from BP. Its withholding of this information fuelled the opposition. Campaigners believe that the sum of money given to the Tate by BP is far less than most people would imagine. In fact, they believe it is as little as 0.4% of the Tate’s annual budget.
The issue brings to the fore an increasing public pressure placed upon organisations to ensure that their sponsorship and partnerships reflect the image and ideals of the organisation. For sponsorship to work well, it needs to be meaningful. The importance of this is heightened when a company’s social license to operate is in question. - Jessica Naylor
Image credit: Jeffrey Blackler