Tate trustee reignites BP row ahead of Turner Prize

Patrick Brill brands oil company "a disgrace", as campaign groups call for end of sponsorship deal

One of the Tate galleries' top officials has broken ranks to criticise the organisation's sponsorship deal with BP, calling the oil company "a disgrace" for its environmental record.

Patrick Brill, who goes by the pseudonym Bob and Roberta Smith, is one of 13 trustees who oversee the organisation's acquisitions and strategies. He features in a report on the subject, co-published this week by campaign groups Liberate Tate, Art Not Oil and Platform.

The publication, Not If But When: Culture Beyond Oil, comes days before the announcement of the winner of the Turner Prize, one of the most high-profile platforms for contemporary art, which the Tate organises.

"[BP] is going to dig up the Arctic," says Mr Brill in the report. "It's sucking up oil from tar sands. We should have a moratorium on the seas and stop deep drilling. When activists protest at, for example, events like the Tate summer party, that is a thoroughly good thing. It allows me to say: BPis a disgrace."

Liberate Tate made headlines in April when some of its members entered Tate Britain and used BP-branded petrol cans to pour an oil-like liquid over a naked demonstrator . The activists were protesting against the impact of BP's oil sands project in Canada, its exploration of the Arctic and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Tate refuses to reveal the exact sum it receives from BP each year, but the oil company is known to spend more than £1m a year sponsoring major UK arts institutions.

"The relationship of BP and Tate is nuanced and complex and full of contradictions," said Mr Brill. "I am critical of BP and yet I sit on the Tate board. I'm on that board because I believe in the power of art. Art is important; yet art is under threat. That is why I sit on that board. I will not leave the board because of protests about BP, but these protests are important."

Liberate Tate says it has amassed 8,000 signatures on a letter asking Tate to "disengage from BP as a sponsor". Platform spokesman Kevin Smith said: "We can't pretend arts funding exists in an ethical vacuum. Given BP's growing list of controversial operations, from the Deepwater Horizon disaster to tar sands extraction, it's time for Tate to look for sponsorship that's more in line with its rhetoric on human rights and sustainability."

Responding to the campaigners' previous criticisms, Tate Britain said BP was "one of the most important sponsors of the arts in the UK, supporting Tate as well as several other leading cultural institutions". It added that all its donors had to comply with an ethics policy. "BP has worked with Tate since 1990, and fits within the guidelines of this policy," it said.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project