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licence to spill licence to spill 40 miles off

the coast of Louisiana. Deepwater

Apart from catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon, there are a whole Horizon oil drilling platform.
host of adverse impacts that are associated with the production of oil.
On the local level, it often involves extreme forms of pollution for local Tuesday 20 April 2010
communities, while regionally oil is frequently associated with greater An explosion occurs on an oilrig leased by BP,
militarization and conflict. Globally, carbon emissions, oil companies, and our 11 workers die instantly, 17 others are injured.
collective dependence on the product they push, are taking us ever closer to 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, crude begins
the edge of climate catastrophe. to gush uncontrollably from the deep water well.
An oil slick the size of Costa Rica causes
catastrophic damage to vast stretches of coastal
In order for an oil company to produce oil and transport it to the global ecosystems, the local culture of tourism and fishing
market, it needs either the support or the silence of the population in is devastated. The rate at which oil spews forth
those areas of the world in which this takes place. Where the necessary from the well is unknown, as BP refuses to let
support - or ‘social licence to operate’ - is not forthcoming, the ability of independent scientists perform the necessary
that company to carry out its business becomes seriously impaired. measurements.

The building of this social licence takes place to some extent in the
countries of the distant oilfields, but to a far greater degree in the cities
of the global North, such as London, one of the companies’ key centres of
operation. Here, Shell and BP have between them sponsored almost all of
London’s most prestigious museums and cultural institutions over the course
of the last decade.
South Bank
of the Thames, London.
The financial support that the companies provide strengthens their Tate Modern.
position as a part of Britain’s cultural and social elite, and creates a
Tuesday 20 April
perception of making a positive contribution to our society. This in turn
not only provides them with an important profile with ordinary fuel Thousands of visitors pass through the
customers, but far more importantly strengthens connections between the converted power station, taking in an
corporations and vital bodies such as government departments. The support internationally-acclaimed collection
of contemporary art. Exhibitions include
of institutions such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, or the a retrospective of seminal Abstract
Department of International Development, are far more important to the Expressionist Arshile Gorky, and the Dutch
global operations of Shell and BP than that of the populations near the artist Theo van Doesburg. One of the
oilfields or on the pipeline routes. These relationships are made at the gala main sponsors of the Tate is BP.
openings and concerts, where the audiences made up of civil servants and
" Art exists to change the status quo. The exact nature of this sponsorship
decision makers rub shoulders with the oil executives. Sometimes you have to take a moral standpoint is unknown as the Tate refuses to
disclose the figure despite numerous
to provide that space for questions to be raised, Freedom of Information requests.
A decade ago, tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for even though others argue that you shouldn't..."
public institutions to gain support from – the current BP Portrait Award at
the National Portrait Gallery was previously sponsored by Imperial Tobacco. Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate,
Now it is socially unacceptable for tobacco to play this public role, and it is speaking in the Guardian, February 2010
our hope that oil and gas will soon be seen in the same light, as the public
comes to recognise that the sponsorship programmes of BP and Shell are
means by which attention is distracted from their impacts on human rights,
10th Anniversary
the environment and the global climate. celebrations of Tate Modern
South Bank of the Thames,
Saturday 15 May
The Deepwater Horizon spill has been

gushing its toxic tide for four weeks;

it has become one of the worst oil spills
./-%/$ in history. Art/activists Liberate Tate,
51/-% PLATFORM works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the enter the museum’s vast Turbine Hall
transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of and release dozens of large black helium
in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.
balloons with dead fish and oil-slicked
6(+'17(# )(+% model birds tied to them by long black
ribbons. The balloons float to the top of
9='%7=% !
./-%/$ )*%(+%! .1&%!7
For more comments from people in the art world
similar to those in this briefing, see
the high ceiling, blackened feathers fall
<%7+!% through the air, part of the celebrations
are shut down. Later, the balloons are
For more information on issues around art and oil sponsorship,
shot down by Tate staff armed with air
email: rifles.
or follow @liberatetate on twitter.
a n d t h a t a g e n e ra tion will
a u s te ri t y w il l b re ed discontent a g a in to b e angry
is t h a t s o n c e
“My hope
h a rd t im e s to m a ke art that dare
lva n is e d b y t h e od for the arts?” Ob
server, May 2010
be ga a ll y e n gaged.” Sean O’Haga n, “Is au ste rit y go

? – p o li t ic
and – dare I say it
g e of a u s te r it y
e turn Art in an a
the first place w et that we are pa
an en de av ou r, art should be e Ta te sh ould t let’s never forg
of hu m
therefore that th re , bu ot he rs.
Of all the areas ab su rd y age of auster ity is he
ne gambles ta ke n by
n. It is even m or e lluting as BP. Da tr um pe te d by th e in sa
for self-reflectio th at is as irr esponsible and po an d sh ow The muc h-
our making, a cr
isis genera te d
side many other
target s.
be sponsored by
a compa ny
would dissect th
e logo of BP
e for a crisis not of st ate fu nd in g of the arts, along of th e ga m e to ensure
an y cr iti ca l ar t theory course e of m od er n visual corporat Big cuts are bein
g made to
tio ns ar e tr yi ng to get ahea d
As the belt
one of fa ce d pi ec its s, and arts orga
nisa r survival.
t cynical and ba
keen to have it at
tached to
Anxiety abound is a question of shee s precisely
it to be the mos e Ta te therefore so e assumption n to their work. Fo r m an y it
w e are operating in , ye t it’
th th tio ics
propaganda . W hy is
k, in part , ba se d on leas t di sr up
to lose sight of
the wid er po lit d ethics ill out.
of m od er n ar t? W or
se, orthodox y an d authority.
tightens, it’s easy or ga ni sation’s values an
proud collection ac en cy , di sg ui
that the true mea
su re of an
challenge compl at such moments
that art should nisations tend to
t cial justice orga organisations
electronic artis h, aid , an d so urce s, ar ts
ental, healt r funding so
rt is an ro nm th ei
Matthew Herbe
re as en vi hi cs of cept
W he
discussions abou
t th e et ch discussio , ex ns
vigorous internal se lv es to be immune from su en t, su ch as
to consider them on agreem
and composer very often seem
urces have cle ar ly be en de m onised by comm
ovocativ el y sa id th at , “t he artist
where funding so orge Baselitz pr ask no question,
. As po rn og raphy. Artist Ge ial ...The artist can
fects rich people tobacco, ar m s, or so cia l ro le is as oc used. It is
pe ct to th is lat est oil spill: it af ef fe ct s. As well sp on sib le to an yone. His (s ic)
rm at io n an d hi s work cann be ot
There is a pleasin
g as to mitigate its is not re fers no info
s and action is be in g ta ke n
ns also ne ed statement; he of e.”
such it is big new ocidal corporatio and he makes no ts , in m y case, the pictur
Gu lf of M ex ico however, ec th ei r m as sive everyday the end prod uc t w hi ch co un
ion of “art
as cleaning th e
ea , th e Gulf Region an d
ound ric , an d segregated posit
to clean up the Gu
lf of Gu in orer loca ns ar
tio is elitist , Eu ro ce nt lture does in
pe op le s and habitats in po ch w ou ld mean en ta lly disagree with th fr om Eu ropean “high” cu hics
destruction of w
ild life,
t green-washe d. W hi We fu nd am
t this common po
sition ar isi ng ns concerning et
ghly cle an th at is, no
ts institu tio ns to
for art’s sake,” bu ch of m an y arts organisatio ey an d ru n,
the world. Thorou ki ng th at all ow s “artists” and ar o en ds – just th e he ad -in -the sand ap pr oa
fu nd in g’s sa ke ” - take the m on
ral thin criminals als part expl ain rts funding fo r
the gulf in cultu m on ey from climate Af rik ans g. Let’s call it “a
see no conflict in
ac ce pt in g fic in en sla ve d and their fundin
ans-Atlantic traf d friends the source.
rtising and the Tr r many-tentacle and never mind considerations w
as nicotine adve rit ish Pe trol eu m an d th ei
ss il fuels ethical financial
Iranian /B move beyond fo ar t fr om th e world,
before it. Anglo- th ei r sli ck oily worlds and ns , re ne wable n th e ar ts possibly be se t ap
e lar ge st cu ltural econom y in
ea t ra tio w ca The UK ha s th e often hailed
must be forced
st ol en w ea lth on global repa ills .
Yet ho
so ciety face daily? ar ts and artists ar
r collective , PR , spin and de
adly dr he r pa rt s of ot he re . Th e
poet Shelley pu
t it -
into spending ou t more rebrands
There’s a huge bl
ind sp
sible, or - as the
sustainable en er gy an d no relative to GDP. e th e in vi sib le vi
to ethics an d fu nd in g,
ue ability to mak .” But in regard
poet as having a uniq t
) is a writer and
rs of th e w or ld as t, tr an sp ar en
a y dg ed legislato m ent, or at le
im o n M u rr “the un ac kn ow le
e of se rio us en ga ge
SaiMuRai (S Abroad complete absenc
o ra te s w it h A frican Writers there is almost a
who collab
public discussio ke a position
ga ni sa tio ns and artists ta is
proposing is one
where ar ts or in public. There
The world we’re ns to fin ance, and do so th re at
hes is a symptom novative and et
hical so lu tio d in light of th e
w as hi ng up on Louisiana’s beac Tate Britain will on developing in nd en cy on fo ssil fuels must en l ca ta st ro ph es
oi l all party to. And sus that depe d environmen ta
The slick tide of w e’r e g co ns en ue s, an is
diction to oi l th at of BP’s support. an in cr ea sin e human rig ht s iss g away fr om th
of a systemic ad y th is m on th and 20 years ther m at e ch an ge, as well as th e tid e is un doubtedly turnin il fu el
celebrate their Su
mmer Pa rt watchful of whe of cli
the fossil fuel in
dustry . Th
public opinion co
nsider s fo ss
a toast. We stand palling associated with r of time before
re w e ca n ra ise
tar sands, w ith all its ap at te og raphy funding
We’re just not su Ca na di an e. source of fundin
g. It’s on ly a m
bacco, arms, an d po rn
investing in th e es and the mat cli te as th e to to decide where
BP will commit to re st s, in di ge nous communiti e so rs hi p w ith the same di st as
on e. Ea ch or ganisation ha s
, is
consequences fo
r boreal fo
ral institutions ha
ve be co m sp on
e. The question
is a mor al choosing silence
qu estion how cultu from what mentioned abov be pa rt of . Ch oosing inaction, of th e oi l ag e.
ly ay to ing days
It mak es us de ep
hat it takes to sh ift aw future it wants st , part of the dy
l m on ey an d w an cy . Does this it stands, which , pa rt of th e pa
so ensnared in oi fa ta l an d fla wed depend
to remain part of
the problem , and
increasingly appe
ars to be a litical, economic
ve of art and pa
rtying? Yes. se es th e ar ts as central to po rt of th e future.
really af fe ct ou r lo
ag er an d artist who t th e ag enda, to be pa
t ha ve Every ar ts m an sponsibilit y to se , galvanised and
om “discontented
H a rvey a re v isual artists tha cultu ra l life ha s th e capacity and re
ert your eyes un
til increa sin g pr ot es ts fr
mmunities surro
und your gates
Ackroyd & Or you could av af fe ct ed co
ting since 1990
ts, an d
audiences, artis
been collabora politically aware”
intervene in your
sp ac e. W ha t do you choose?

e arts of our Eu
e en vi ab le pu bl ic support for th th an th e Un ited States.
Despite th tter position could
be what the is a debate that
e ar e in a m uc h be ul d
counterparts, w re here is it co so rs hi p ing BP’s
on stions re rd
le fu tu 's oi l sp ga
g about the po ss ib In the early 1990 Public art andvo y. Q ue
What is worryin las t 20 or so years. lve ev er yb od internally
and should inwith the Tate are being raised
h ov er th e ga ni sa tio ns
throug n arts or
States have gone ng debates whe om ing
in the St ates , th er e w ere huge agonisi M orris du rin g a time when involvement on the issue could be forthc
us su pp or t from Philip E) was on
and a decisi August.
were offered ge
ne ro equivalent AC of
for the Arts (the sometime in
En do w m en t
matter known,
ur views on the
the Nationa l
e to m ak e yo
under attack. If you would lik
? Aside from the
ts a di sa ster in the States e why not email
ance of th e ar n big holes in th te)
Why is private fin
plicatio ns , th e fin an cia l crisis has blow
al giving sour ce s w hi ch has
ot a@ ta te .o rg .uk (Head of Ta Ta te Britain)
major ethical im d in di vi du of
nicholas.ser (Head urator at Tate Britain)
corporate, priv at e an tions. Serio ly,us
majority of the wn arts organisa penelope.cur (Chief C Tate)
Development –
se d do y to
cted and ev en clo think we are craz
significantly impa na l in th e States, they will judith.nesbitt .u k (H ea d of
ts prof es sio
if you ask any ar
t th ei r ph ila nthropic models.
r at the Arts
is an Arts Office
Salette Gressett
Council of Engla