Today is one of those days when we know we’re winning.

It emerged that BP’s sponsorship of art gallery Tate will end within a year.

Tate visitors seedbomb Empty Lot installation in Tate Modern as part of unauthorised Deadline Festival in December. Photo by Martin LeSanto-Smith

Tate visitors seedbomb Empty Lot installation in Tate Modern as part of unauthorised Deadline Festival in December. Photo by Martin LeSanto-Smith

Until this morning we didn’t know whether Tate would be signing a new deal with the oil company, locking it into fossil fuel promotion for a further 5 years.

But in a victory for cultural divestment, BP and Tate announced that their cosy relationship will end by 2017.


Back in December, we announced this as Tate’s deadline year to come off BP. Our 3-day unauthorised Deadline Festival took over Tate Modern, with over 20 performances, lectures, film screenings and a seed-bombing of the Empty Lot installation in the Turbine Hall.

That followed 6 years of intense campaigning and performances from Liberate Tate, Platform and Art not Oil, as well as a growing number of artists, cultural commentators, and art lovers, have campaigned for Tate to end its relationship with BP since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. (Read more of the back story in Mel Evans’s Artwash.)

Last year we forced Tate to reveal in an Information Tribunal that BP’s fees accounted for only 0.5% of Tate’s budget (an average of £224,000 a year). This May, Tate is to appear at the Information Tribunal once again over refusal to disclose further sponsorship details.


The end of Tate’s sponsorship deal with BP is hopeful news for us, for the art world, and for everyone whose lives are affected by climate change.

It will shrink BP’s social license – the oil company can no longer use Tate’s art collections to mask  the devastation it caused to people’s lives in Colombia, Azerbaijan, Alberta. And the gallery – whether it admits this or not – has taken the best form of climate action it could.


Does this mean we can sit back and relax? Hardly. We’ll be pushing  for Tate to join the Fossil Funds Free commitment! And it’s time for us all to get the British Museum, Science Museum, National Portrait Gallery, and Royal Opera House to follow Tate’s lead. We wish, too, to continue challenging Tate’s (and the other museums’) colonial practices.

Deadline Festival participants call on Tate to drop BP, December 2015. Photograph by Martin LeSanto-Smith

Deadline Festival participants call on Tate to drop BP, December 2015. Photograph by Martin LeSanto-Smith

What you can do:

  • Sign the Fossil Funds Free commitment if you make art or work in culture more broadly. Or make sure that your favourite artist, gallery, theatre, or museum sign up!

  • Support us in stepping up this campaign – to end all oil sponsorship, in London and beyond. Donate to the campaign.
  • Look out for invitations to upcoming interventions at oil-sponsored cultural spaces, or get in touch if you’re interested in becoming more active in the campaign for a fossil free culture.

 

PS: There will be a party in honour of Tate’s liberation from BP on Saturday 19th March – details here.