Tate Board Reviewing Renewal Contract for BP Sponsorship

Maybe Time and Shepard Fairey are right and this truly is the year of the protestor, and maybe constant activism and things like oil spilling stunts really do work toward making change. At the end of last month, we wrote that protestors were preparing to ramp their activities back up in trying to stop the Tate from taking sponsorship money from British Petroleum, and that trustee Patrick Brill had broken ranks to come out against the museum’s association with the oil giant. Now it appears that all of those efforts may have worked to, at the very least, shake up the relationship a bit. The Guardian reports that the Tate’s board has been reviewing the sponsorship very closely as it nears BP’s three year financial pledge to the museum, which is set to end in 2012. While the institution hasn’t come right out and said that it’s thinking of no longer taking the company’s money, those in support of the move away see it as a positive sign that the Tate is even talking about the decision to renew with BP. Here’s the museum’s director, Nicholas Serota, speaking to the paper about what’s gone on behind the scenes:

You’ll not be surprised to learn that the whole question of the support from BP has exercised trustees quite seriously over the past two years. Both the trustees as a board, but also the trustees through their ethics committee, which was instituted about four years ago, have looked very carefully at the question.” The trustees had decided that “the good that has been done through the money that has come from BP for the gallery, and for the gallery’s public, has been very profound”.

That final line seems to imply that they’re still leaning toward keeping with BP, which would likely mean a 2012 filled with more oil spilling protests, but who knows how it will all play out. Serota tells the Guardian that the Tate’s board will have its answer soon.