Oil giant BP will be ending its decades-long sponsorship of Tate in 2017, the Independent reports. BP will have sponsored Tate, which consists of four art museums –Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives, and Tate Modern – for 27 years by the time their association ends next year.
BP’s sponsorship of Tate has been repeatedly criticised by environmental campaigners, who’ve staged performance pieces at Tate galleries. In 2011 protestors covered a naked man in an oil-like substance at a gallery; while in 2015 fifty people received tattoos showing carbon dioxide levels in protest.
Although Tate is mainly Government-funded, it remains heavily reliant on corporate sponsors to make up funding shortfalls and questions remain over which new sponsors will step in to take BP’s place. BP has denied that the move comes in response to criticism from environmental campaigners, instead citing the “extremely challenging business environment”. Tate used similar language in their statement, saying that BP’s support had been “an outstanding example of patronage and collaboration over nearly thirty years."
Art collective Liberate Tate have claimed today’s announcement as a victory. Spokesperson Yasmin De Silva told Dazed, “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.”