What’s underneath Tate’s secrecy? Liberate Tate’s “Hidden Figures” performance at Tate Modern. Photo: Martin LeSanto-Smith

Next Wednesday, we’re taking Tate to the Information Tribunal for refusing to reveal details of BP sponsorship. The disputed information is the amounts BP gave after 2006 and until 2012. This is despite a previous court ruling[1], and despite the fact that the sponsorship deal is ending in 2017[2].

Thanks to a heap of internal emails published this week by Art Not Oil[3], we now know a lot more than before about the extent of BP’s influence over the museums it sponsors.

We know, for example, that after being offered a piece of art from an Aboriginal women’s collective, the British Museum next asked BP whether it was OK to display it. Seriously.

And we also know that BP worked to orchestrate the responses of the museums to protests against oil sponsorship. Tate representatives attended a meeting hosted by BP on the topic.

‘Dear all – in these times of heightened security, [Name redacted], BP’s Group Security Advisor is organising a security briefing led by [Name redacted] at our offices on the morning of 12 February 2015. We would like to invite you to attend this extremely important & valuable briefing session which will last for approximately 3 hours. We are offering you 2 places on this programme.

Can you please advise by 12 January whether you are able to attend and also advise the name of the colleague attending with you (I presume security personnel).

We will confirm exact timings nearer the time. Look forward to hearing from you.’ – email from BP dated 10 December 2014

Now, did BP also tell Tate to continue obfuscating the facts of the sponsorship? Is this why Tate is sticking to its legal guns, four years on from the original request for information? And what lessons should the still-BP-sponsored British Museum and National Portrait Gallery draw from this?

If you’d like to come along and watch the argument unfold, here are the details:

11th May 2016; 10am
Court H, Residential Property Tribunal,
10 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7LR
(nearest Tube station: Goodge Street)

Get in touch with us[4] if you’d like to be kept up to date with the details in case anything changes.

Note that we cannot post on social media while the hearing is in process, but welcome to Tweet, blog etc during the lunch break and after the hearing. #BPsecrets

Endnotes:
  1. previous court ruling: https://platformlondon.org/2015/01/27/tate-reveals-bp-sponsorship-secrets-foi/
  2. the sponsorship deal is ending in 2017: https://platformlondon.org/2016/03/21/tate-bp-not-the-end/
  3. published this week by Art Not Oil: http://www.artnotoil.org.uk/blog/bp’s-corrupting-influence
  4. Get in touch with us: mailto:[email protected]