Saturday, 27 February 2016

More on BP

Here's what BP or not BP say about BP's sponsorship of the arts.

What’s wrong with BP sponsoring the arts?

BP sponsors the arts in order to generate good publicity, which it so desperately needs. Being seen as a partner to our national cultural institutions helps BP present itself as a caring, generous member of the community, whilst continuing to destroy the environment and contribute to human rights abuses around the world. We call this ‘artwash’. And it works. 38% of people who were exposed to BP’s Olympic sponsorship believe that BP is doing better at working towards a cleaner planet.

The arts and cultural institutions that accept sponsorship from BP are effectively legitimising BP’s actions, by giving them positive publicity.

Oil sponsorship taints the reputation of the arts and cultural institutions that accept it. Art should not be exploited by big oil corporations.

In return, the arts institutions only receive a tiny percentage of their annual income from BP. BP sponsorship provides less than 1% of the annual income of the British Museum, Tate, and the Royal Opera House, and just 2.9% of the income of the National Portrait Gallery. (Statistics for Scottish cultural institutions coming soon!) BP needs these institutions far more than they need BP.

Inevitably, I don't agree entirely with their position. Although I would not argue with the thrust of their arguments, I don't regard art as being the innocent party: there is a conscious decision by the institutions to accept the money, and art has always been the propaganda wing of the dominant cultural establishment. Artists have associated themselves with political causes to look like they have an important social function, but take the cash when a big boy offers it.

However, BP are making a good, value-for-money investment. They give a little to high profile events, and get publicity and respect. This isn't the Borgias paying for an entire church. It's a grab of public spaces for cheap advertising.

Besides, they aren't exactly championing the emerging artists when they slap the cash around Tate. 

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