THURSDAY 17 MAR 2016 4:40 PM


In a move that has been widely blamed on falling oil prices, BP will end its average £224,000 per year sponsorship of the Tate collection of art galleries. The relationship first began in 1990.

Tate’s corporate partnership with BP has allowed the galleries to hold many more exhibitions and events than originally planned for the art spaces.

This is despite the company coming under scrutiny for its role in controversial energy projects and environmental disasters such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which left 11 people dead and around 200mn gallons of crude oil spilt into the Gulf of Mexico.

In several high-profile events, environmental activists have also staged protest over BP’s continued use of fossil fuels. One of the most notable in recent years was in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, in 2011. Art activists, artists, environmental activists and Tate members, among others, staged a ‘mass exorcism’ to protest at the continued affiliation of the Tate group with a conglomerate such as BP, which holds such a divisive environmental record.

However, BP has denied that its decision to end sponsorship of the Tate group has been influence by the continued pressure faced from concerned environmentalists. Peter Mather, head of BP in the UK, said in a press statement that the decision instead, “Reflects the extremely challenging business environment in which we are operating.”

With 8 million visitors each year to its four separate locations, there is no doubting the ability of the Tate name to inspire, entertain and educate. While BP was always a controversial choice of corporate partner, the partnership is one of the longest-running corporate investments into an arts scheme in the UK. it is also one of the most fruitful - – 37 million people have visited the Tate’s BP-sponsored content over the past 25 years.

Other institutions sponsored by BP include the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House, and the British Museum. Plans have not been announced to rescind sponsorship for entertainment centres elsewhere.