With Trustee’s Turn Against BP Sponsorship, Another Round of Protests Awaiting the Tate?


Last summer you might recall that, following the wake of the Gulf oil spill, a number of British museums became the target of protesters who chided those organizations for taking donations from British Petroleum. The National Portrait Gallery got hit, as did the British Museum. The Tate Britain perhaps received the largest brunt of the movement, with activists spilling oil both inside and outside of the museum. So apparently worrying were the protesters’ actions that Tony Blair even canceled a planned book party at the Tate Modern so as to not run into any trouble. But that was last year and now everyone has moved on to joining Occupy movements, right? Not so fast. The Independent reports that this week a Tate trustee, Patrick Brill, has broken ranks and come out against the museum’s association with BP, saying that what the activists are doing is a “thoroughly good thing” and that “BP is a disgrace.” Here’s a bit more:

“The relationship of BP and Tate is nuanced and complex and full of contradictions,” said Mr Brill. “I am critical of BP and yet I sit on the Tate board. I’m on that board because I believe in the power of art. Art is important; yet art is under threat. That is why I sit on that board. I will not leave the board because of protests about BP, but these protests are important.”

For their part, the Tate has responded saying it continues to value its relationship with BP, which it has had as a donor for more than twenty years. Should Brill’s comments spark another year of internal oil spills and protestors camped out front, we’ll just have to see if the Tate continues to sing that tune.