Frances Perraudin, in Time, reports on London arts lovers fighting back against morally questionable corporate sponsors:
The cozy relationship between the arts and major corporations has often proved a controversial issue. But now, thanks to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, protesters — already angered by oil’s role in climate change and human rights abuses — are focusing their crosshairs on BP…“It’s so galling to see every single cultural attraction in London that I care about stained with this horrible, horrible sponsorship,” says Liberate Tate member Tom Costello…Critics accuse BP of using blockbuster exhibitions and arts awards (the highlight of the National Portrait Gallery’s year is the “BP Portrait Award”) to direct attention away from their environmental and ethical crimes. “These sponsorship deals give companies like BP the social license to operate,” says Dan Gretton, co-founder of Platform, an arts and research charity that puts pressure on arts organizations to dump their oil partners. “Having these links with cultural organizations is a way for them to launder their image.”And, yes, London theatre has been equally compromised:
How can you take a moral standpoint if you're being sponsored by companies many consider to be immoral? As an example, protester Costello points to a new play showing at the National Theatre. "Earthquakes in London," Costello says, "is an incredible piece of theatre." He feels its climate-change message is somewhat compromised, though, by the fact that the National Theatre has both BP and Shell as sponsors. "At one point a character turns to the audience and asks, 'Are you embarrassed? Well, you should be,'" says Costello. "Oh the irony!"