Do sponsorship protests damage relations with sponsors and philanthropists?

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Pressure groups such as Art Not Oil aim to sever the link between corporations such as BP and the cultural institutions they sponsor through direct action. But how effective are such protests?

But theatre critic and historian Kate Maltby, in an article for the Financial Times at the weekend, suggests that, in a climate of government funding cuts, “if protest pushes BP away from its philanthropic commitments, we will all be the losers”.

It is ironic, she writes, that the anti-capitalist groups that criticise corporate philanthropy only make the arts less accessible to all.

Campaign Against Arms Trade is campaigning to stop cultural organisations hosting corporate events for the arms trade link, but the list on its website shows that many continue to do so.

BP ended its sponsorship deal with Tate last year, after 26 years. According to a report in The Independent, the oil company said it had ended the deal due to an “extremely challenging business environment”.

Others attributed the end of the deal to campaigning by groups such as Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil.

So who is right?


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24.05.2017, 21:36
It’s good that you redrafted the question, but it’s a pity the wording is as unclear as before, albeit in a different way.

Does it mean ‘Do sponsorship protests damage relations with sponsors and philanthropists?’, or is it meant to mean ‘Do sponsorship protests damage relations between sponsors and philanthropists?’ or possibly 'Do sponsorship protests damage relations between sponsors (aka philanthropists) and museums?'

It also repeats Kate Maltby’s claim that a) BP is acting philanthropically rather than in the interests of its brand management and b) that these protests/performances are anti-capitalist by nature, when there is no evidence for such a claim.

But thanks all the same for airing these issues!
23.05.2017, 18:00
The average punter entered and left the Tate little realizing that some of its exhibitions were sponsored by BP. In contrast the campaigners who want to target BP were probably really glad to have a comfortable stage i.e inside a well-visited art gallery from which to broadcast their hitherto barely heard message. So much nicer than hanging around the gates to an oil refinery or picketing drivers seeking to refuel their cars at petrol stations. Like all single issue groups, they will only be concerned about their own ideological objectives, everyone else's priorities take second place.