These Associations by Tino Sehgal will be the last Turbine Hall commission that Unilever will sponsor. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson, Tate Photography 2012

Unilever drops sponsorship of Tate's Turbine Hall commission

Rebecca Atkinson, 13.08.2012
Tate to look for new sponsor from 2014 
Unilever has confirmed it is ending its sponsorship of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall commission, which has seen the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread create site-specific artworks with free admission to visitors.

Since it first launched in 2000, the Unilever Series has seen 13 international artists commissioned to make works of art specifically for the Turbine Hall.

The competition infamously saw Doris Salcedo create a subterranean chasm stretching the length of the hall in 2007 while Ai Weiwei filled the space with millions of porcelain sunflower seeds in 2010.
But Unilever has announced that this year’s commission, These Associations by Tino Sehgal, will be the last one it sponsors.

"While we will continue our relationship with Tate as a corporate member, we are now planning a change of direction which will fit closely with our company's mission set out in the Unilever sustainable living plan: to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and increasing our positive social impact,” said Sue Garrard, senior vice president of communications at Unilever.

According to trade magazine Marketing, Unilever has provided an overall sponsorship of £4.41m to the Tate Modern through the series. This includes sponsorship of £1.25m for the first five years, followed by a £1m renewal deal until 2008 and a further £2.16m until 2012.

A spokeswoman for Tate said that there will not be a Turbine Hall commission in 2013 because of planned building work.

But she added: “We will start discussions with other companies about the sponsorship of the Turbine Hall commission from 2014 onwards.”

Sehgal's 2012/13 artwork is Tate Modern’s first “live” commission in the Unilever Series. The work consists of encounters between professional storytellers and visitors to the hall.  

Earlier this year, Tate Modern launched a smartphone app bringing together all the artworks created during The Unilever Series, including early sketches and inspiration, essays by curators, and interviews and texts by the artists as well as installation photography.

In 2009 it launched a cultural exchange programme based on the series. Turbinegeneration is an online education project linking schools across the globe, with 30 countries taking part in 2012.