BP has announced that it will continue its arts sponsorships as pressure grows for damages arising from its disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement comes in the wake of concerns amongst UK arts organisations that the cost of the clean up operation in the Gulf might force BP to scale back its support for the arts at a time when Government spending on the arts is about to be slashed amid efforts to cut public debt.
When questioned about the sponsorships the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery in London rallied around BP issuing a joint statement praising the oil company for its contribution to the arts and cultural life of the country. And in another attempt to put a positive spin on the sponsorships the chief executive of Arts & Business in the UK, Colin Tweedy, said: “If they were spending billions on it some people might say it was a waste of shareholders' money which should be spent on cleaning up beaches. Saving that money will not do anything to the coastline of America.”
As oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and pressure mounts for cultural institutions to distance themselves from the oil giant, it seems likely that sponsored museums and galleries will face more spirited attempts from arts and environmental activists to position BP's arts sponsorships as a toxic brand, despite the best efforts of their spin doctors.
Image: oil continuing to gush from the broken wellhead at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico