Unprecedented coalition from the arts condemns BP-sponsorship of the Tate

Press Release 28 Jun 2010 admin

171 figures from the arts sign letter on the day Tate celebrates 20 years of BP funding

A letter today was published in the Guardian today signed by 171 figures from the art world condemning BP’s sponsorship of cultural institutions in the UK. The letter has been published on the day that Tate Britain is hosting a party to celebrate 20 years of BP’s sponsorship. [1] A group of artists under the banner of ‘The Good Crude Britannia’ are planning on protesting outside the event, and will be handing out the “Licence to Spill’ briefing to people attending the party.[2]

Arts/activist organisation Platform [3] has gathered 171 signatories from the international arts community, for a letter that says:

“As crude oil continues to devastate coastlines and communities in the Gulf of Mexico, BP executives will be enjoying a cocktail reception with curators and artists in the Tate Britain. These relationships enable big oil companies to mask the environmentally destructive nature of their activities with the social legitimacy that is associated with such high profile cultural associations.”[4]

Some of the signatories include:

*Hans Haacke, German-American conceptual artist whose work has featured on numerous occasions in Tate exhibitions

*John Keane, who was the official British war artist during the first Gulf War and who was a judge on the 2004 BP-sponsored portrait award at the National Portrait Gallery

*Sonia Boyce, MBE, whose works are held in the collection of the Tate Modern

Hans Haacke, one of the signatories said: “Since taxpayers (through their elected representatives) do not adequately fund cultural institutions, it has become routine for corporate sponsors with PR needs to fill the gap. This arrangement often creates conflicts between the public good and a sponsor’s agenda. It is rare, however, that these conflicts are recognized and publicly debated, as it is now with BP and the Tate Gallery.”

Electronic artist Matthew Herbert, also a signatory said: “The oily tentacles of both BP and Shell have wrapped themselves around our most prestigious cultural institutions and at a time when urgent action is required to slow consumption of fossil fuels. In trading our cultural legacies so nakedly for such tainted cash, some of Britain’s most powerful stages for creative expression have knowingly undermined the very integrity of that expression.”

Kevin Smith from Platform said: “This letter is testament to the extent of the discomfort felt in the arts by the Tate’s ongoing relationship with BP. The ongoing ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico should be the game changer that finally ends the ability of the oil industry to legitimise itself through arts and cultural sponsorship.”


For interviews and more information:

On Sunday 27 June, call 0207 700 7971

On Monday call Platform: 0207 403 3738 or 07790 430 620 / [email protected]

We can put you in touch with some of the artists who have signed on to the letter



[1] News of the party was first leaked on Thursday. See the PR ‘Leaked invite reveals Tate’s ill-timed plans to celebrate BP sponsorship’ at

[2] The Good Crude Britannia is a national artists’ campaign against BP sponsorship of Tate. We are calling all concerned artists to either sign the petition and/or support the ‘campaign’ which is to be launched on Monday 28th June 2010 at Tate Britain’s Summer Party, 7-9pm.!/group.php?gid=126083700763469

‘Licence to Spill’ is available at:

[3] Platform works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.

[4] The letter and full list of signatories:

Tonight, the Tate is holding a summer party in which it is also celebrating 20 years of BP sponsorship. As crude oil continues to devastate coastlines and communities in the Gulf of Mexico, BP executives will be enjoying a cocktail reception with curators and artists in the Tate Britain. These relationships enable big oil companies to mask the environmentally destructive nature of their activities with the social legitimacy that is associated with such high profile cultural associations.

We represent a cross section of people from the arts community that believe that the BP logo represents a stain on Tate’s international reputation. Many artists are angry that Tate and other national cultural institutions continue to side step the issue of oil sponsorship. Little more than a decade ago, tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions to gain support from – that is no longer the case. It is our hope that oil and gas will soon be seen in the same light. The public is rapidly coming to recognise that the sponsorship programmes of BP and Shell are means by which attention can be distracted from their impacts on human rights, the environment and the global climate.

1.Hans Haacke, artist

2. John Keane, artist

3. Caryl Churchill, playwright

4. Matthew Herbert, electronic artist and composer

5. Suzi Gablik, art critic and writer

6. Gordon Roddick, art philanthopist

7. Rebecca Solnit, writer and art critic

8. Lucy R. Lippard, writer and curator

9. Davey Anderson, playwright

10. Adam Chodzko, artist

11. Beverly Naidus, artist and professor

12. Suzanne Lacy, artist

13. Chris Jordan, artist

14. Cat Phillipps, artist

15. Martin Rowson, cartoonist

16. Robert Newman, comedian and writer

17. Sonia Boyce, artist, MBE

18. Barbara Steveni, artist & initiator of Artist Placement Group

19. Peter Fend, artist

20. SaiMuRai (Simon Murray), writer, poet, artist

21. Ackroyd & Harvey, artists

22. Aidan Jolly, musician, community artist

23. Jon Sack, artist

24. Matthew Lee Knowles, composer

25. Theodore Price, artist

26. Scott Massey, artist

27. Ben Mellor, writer, performer, educator

28. The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, artist collective

29. David Haley FRSA, ecological artist and Senior Research Fellow

30. Alana Jelinek, artist & curator

31. Rachel Anderson, creative producer

32. John Volynchook, photographer

33. Jackie Brookner, artist

34. Suzanne Lacy, artist

35. Neil Callaghan, artist

36. Jonathan Baxter, artist and arts organizer

37. Mark McGowan, artist

38. Catrin Evans, artistic director and theatre practitioner

39. James Stenhouse, artist

40. Charlie Fox, artist and producer

41. Roxanne Permar, artist

42. Jane Lawson, artist

43. John Jordan, artist and writer

44. Hemant Anant Jain, illustrator

45. The Space Hijackers, art interventionists

46. Clare Patey artist/curator

47. Matthias von Hartz, Director Hamburg International Festival

48. Lois Keidan, Live art Development Agency

49. Lucy Neal, artist and producer

50. Lise Autogena, artist

51. Marcelo Expósito, artist and critic

52. Steve Duncombe, cultural theorist/writer

53. Cameron Davis, artist and professor of art at Vermont University

54. Kim Stringfellow, artist/associate professor, SDSU

55. Ros Martin, poet and playwright

56. Amy Balkin, artist

57. John Hartley, artist

58. Amber Hickey, artist

59. Christian Nold, artist

60. Isabeau Doucet, painter

61. Jean Grant, creative director

62. Hayley Newman, artist

63. Christian de Sousa, artist and photographer

64. Immo Klink, artist

65. Susan Kelly, artist and art lecturer

66. Aviv Kruglanski, artist

67. Steve Stuffit, artist

68. Helen Spackman, artistic director and senior lecturer in performing arts

69. Lorena Rivero de Beer, artist

70. Janey Hunt, artist

71. Gregory Sholette, artist and writer

72. Mem Morrison, artistic director

73. Lars Kwakkenbos, artist and writer

74. Tom Besley, producer

75. PLATFORM, arts/activist organization

76. Fran Crowe, artist

77. Sharon Salazar, filmmaker/director

78. Leah Gordon, photographer, filmmaker and curator

79. Alke Schmidt, artist

80. Monika Vykoukal, curator

81. CJ Mitchell, deputy director of Live Art Development Agency

82. Julian Maynard Smith, director of Station House Opera

83. Sue Palmer, artist

84. Brett Bloom, artist

85. Kerry Burton, artist

86. The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, art/activist collective

87. Anna Francis, artist

88. Ana Betancour, artist and architect

89. Simone Paterson, new media artist and academic

90. Ian Teh, photographer

91. Alejandro Meitin, artist

92. Simone Kenyon, artist and producer

93. Milena Placentile, curator

94. Nick Turner, artist and designer

95. Fabio Sassi, artist

96. Ruth Ewan, artist

97. Raoul Martinez, artist

98. Robert McAdam, painter

99. Katy Fattuhi, arts marketer

100. John Holt, artist and writer

101. Katy Hallett, Director, Art Programme

102. Judy Price, artist

103. Stephanie Thieullent, photographer, artist

104. Felix Gonzales, filmmaker, artist

105. Rafael Santos, artist

106. Adrian Arbib, photographer

107. Ian Hunter, Director, Littoral

108. Ele Carpenter, curator

109. Helene Aylon, activist artist

110. Pamela Graham, artist

111. Louise Jones, director, Lemon Street Gallery

112. Ciel Bergman, artist/environmental activist

113. Glauco Bermudez, Cinematographer

114. Marianne Soisalo, artist

115. Mariana Bassani, photographer

116. Michele Petillo, artist

117. Siobhan Mckeown, artist

118. ZEV, tex/sound artist

119. Mira Schor, artist and writer

120. Judith Knight, Director, Artsadmin

121. Gill Lloyd, Director, Artsadmin

123. Danielle Frank, artist

124. Stuart Bracewell, artist.

125. Beverley Dale, Digital Artist

126. Vahida Ramujkic, Artist

127. Mark Vallen – painter, printmaker, writer

128. Toni Martinez-Solera, artist

129. Lucy Fairley, Artist

130. Noel Douglas artist, designer, activist

131. Gareth Evans, writer and curator

132. Stevphen Shukaitis, arts /media/cultural publisher

133. Kuljit Chuhan, Creative producer and digital media artist

134. Calum F. Kerr, artist

135. Lisa Wesley, artist

136. Jody Boehnert, designer, artist and writer

137. Heide Fasnacht, visual artist

138. Michelle Jaffé, artist

139. Jan Brooks, artist

140. Peter Harrison, propeller arts collective

141. Deanne Belinoff, artist

142. Michelle Waters, artist

143. Fern Shaffer, artist

144. Harmony Hammond, artist and art writer

145. Simon Whetham, sound artist

146. Mimi Poskitt, director

147. Micheala Crimmin, curator and critic

148. Wallace Heim, writer and academic

149. Ciel Bergman, painter

150. Ali Sparror – artist

151. Lucy Reeves – Film designer

152. The Vacuum Cleaner, art/activist,

153. Robby Herbst, artist

154. Anja Steidinger, visual artist

155. Claire Hildreth, photographer

156. Loraine Leeson, artist

157. Kayle Brandon, artist

158. Peter Offord, artist

159. Julie Green, painter

160. Murray Wason, artist

161. Christina Moore, production designer

162. Emma Byron, artist and performer

163. Miche Fabre Lewin, artist-cuisiuniere

164. Kate Rich, artist

165. Madeleine Hodge, artist and curator

166. Kirstin Forkert, artist

167. Martin Nakell, poet, fictionalist

168. Liam Hurley, writer, theatre director, story teller

169. Mike Perry, artist

170. Phil Maxwell & Hazuan Hashim, artists

171. Greg Pact, artist

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