We are all philanthropists

Graphic showing aerial view of people holding hands in concentric circles
01 Feb 2024

The Secretary of State for Culture, Lucy Frazer, has called for an attitude shift towards philanthropy to boost arts funding. But that view, writes Caroline McCormick, fails to recognise the huge contribution of the 99%.

Edinburgh Fringe announces JetBlue sponsorship deal

17 Jul 2024

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has revealed a new sponsorship deal with JetBlue.

The deal involves JetBlue supporting the Fringe Society’s Keep It Fringe US fund. Launched in April, the scheme aims to raise $350,000 to support 50 US-based artists to perform at the festival in 2025.

The partnership follows a new route launched by the American airline to the Scottish Capital. 

Shona McCarthy, Fringe Society Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with JetBlue, whose value offering for transatlantic travellers will hopefully make it easier and more affordable for US artists and performing arts pioneers to visit Edinburgh."

Science Museum ends sponsorship with Equinor

15 Jul 2024

The Science Museum has confirmed its sponsorship deal with Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor has ended.

Equinor had sponsored the museum’s Wonderlab gallery for children since 2016.

In a blog, the museum’s Chair, Sir Tim Laurence, said that “those we partner with must demonstrate that they are moving with sufficient urgency along the transition pathway to meet our aspirations”. 

Emails disclosed to campaign organisation Culture Unstained following a Freedom of Information request show Equinor had been contacted several times after it was concluded that Equinor’s business was not aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, a threshold set by the museum for its corporate sponsors.

In July 2022, the museum’s sponsors were notified of the criteria set by the museum expecting partners to achieve alignment with the Paris 1.5˚ pathway by the end of March 2024.

Culture Unstained Co-Director Chris Garrard called the end of the sponsorship a “seismic shift”. “After years of mounting pressure, the Science Museum has now adopted red lines on climate change which have led to Equinor being dropped,” he said.

The announcement has brought about refreshed calls for the Science Museum to also end its sponsorship ties with oil giant BP and Indian coal mining conglomerate Adani.

“With BP also failing to align its business with Paris Agreement goals and Adani the world’s biggest private producer of coal, the museum must now hold these companies to the same standard and stop promoting their toxic brands,” Garrard added.

LSO renews BMW sponsorship

15 Jul 2024

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has announced the renewal of its partnership with BMW Group for three more years.

BMW has supported the LSO's BMW Classics concerts peformed in Trafalgar Square for the last 12 years.

The organisation said continuing its partnership with BMW would allow it to reach a new and younger audience and continue its work in east London schools. Supported by the Mayor of London, the annual concert takes the LSO out of the concert hall and right into the heart of London.

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO, said the company was  “hugely grateful" to BMW.

"BMW Classics is the highlight of our year and has become an essential part of London’s summer music calendar," said McDowell, "with thousands enjoying great music live in Trafalgar Square and on YouTube."
The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “The BMW Classics concerts are a firm favourite in the capital’s cultural calendar, bringing fantastic world-class music to Londoners and visitors for free in the heart of central London, as well as showcasing the next generation of talent on stage. I’m proud to be a partner in these events as we build a better London for everyone.”
Walter Mertl, member of the Board of Management of BMW added: “The BMW Group has been supporting hundreds of cultural initiatives for more than 50 years. We firmly believe in the power of music and the arts to bring people together and to experience joy.

"We are looking forward to continuing the BMW Classics partnership with exciting, new ideas and Sir Antonio Pappano on the conductor’s podium. We welcome him and look forward to next year’s concert in Trafalgar Square.”

Scottish galleries affirm ongoing Baillie Gifford sponsorship

05 Jul 2024

National Galleries of Scotland (NSG) has put out a statement online saying will continue its relationship with sponsor Baillie Gifford.

Acknowledging it was "a complex issue," the NSG statement said “we are confident that the funding we receive from Baillie Gifford meets our strong ethical standards”.

The statement continued: “As a cultural organisation the National Galleries of Scotland offers a space for artists to share experiences and perspectives with others, encouraging discussion and understanding of the world we live in.

“This is one of the main ways we can positively impact society, but it needs to be funded. We deliver a world-class programme of exhibitions, events, engagement and outreach which just wouldn’t be possible without support from partners like Baillie Gifford.”

Baillie Gifford, a Scottish investment management company, has been criticised for its links to the fossil fuel industry and to Israel's war in Gaza.

Recents protests againt Baillie Gifford by climate activists - Fossil Free Books - led to the abrupt cancellation of partnerships with multiple book festivals including Hay, Cheltenham Literature Festival and Edinburget International Book Festival. 

Last month Scotland's John Swinney accused climate activists of damaging Scotland’s cultural events by demanding organisations to reject sponsorship deals.

The Edinburgh Fringe has also said it would keep Baillie Gifford as a sponsor. 

Sponsorship boycotts ‘counterproductive’, says Vaizey

17 Jun 2024

Lord Vaizey’s comments come following Barclays' announcement that it will no longer sponsor Live Nation festivals after artists protested the bank’s ties to firms that supply weapons to Israel.

Tate Director calls out British Museum’s BP sponsorship

04 Jun 2024

Maria Balshaw’s comments coincide with a creative protest against the ongoing sponsorship over the weekend resulting in the museum refusing entry to visitors.

Five strategies to elevate your philanthropy practice

Three masked women at a drinks party
29 May 2024

Continuing our series looking at the role of philanthropy in the arts, Tessitura’s Kate Watson and Rebecca Herberson explore whether a US model of philanthropy might provide a viable alternative funding stream in these straitened times.

Musicians quit festival over Barclays sponsorship

17 May 2024

More than 100 performers have cancelled appearances at the Great Escape music festival in Brighton in protest over claims that event sponsor Barclays Bank has increased its investment in arms companies that trade with Israel.

According to a report in The Guardian, 120 acts, around a quarter of those booked, have now backed out of performing as part of a campaign led by activist group Bands Boycott Barclays.

In April, the group sent an open letter signed by hundreds of musicians, including Massive Attack, Idles, and Eno, calling for Barclays to drop as the festival's partner.

A spokesperson for Bands Boycott Barclays said: “Barclays is bankrolling the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and then laundering its reputation by partnering with music festivals like the Great Escape. As musicians, we think that’s despicable.”

Barclays noted a previous statement from its annual general meeting: “Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ … in relation to these companies. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand, and that may result in us holding shares.”


Making friends with philanthropy advisors

Graphic showing aerial view of people holding hands in concentric circles/a spiral
09 May 2024

You may not have met a philanthropy advisor before, but it is a growing profession, so be ready. Emma Beeston, who’s been one for ten years, explains how they work and why they can be helpful for your organisation.

Philanthropy in 2024: More questions than answers

Abstract painting
30 Apr 2024

As activity this year gathers pace, Michelle Wright explores the many quandaries arts organisations have to navigate in deciding where to focus their fundraising efforts.

City of Culture: Bradford nears £42m funding target

Street poster advertising Bradford 2025
04 Apr 2024

Corporate sponsorship deal sees amount raised by Bradford City of Culture 2025 reach 90% of predicted costs of year-long programme.

Science Museum faces protests ahead of ‘climate gallery’ opening

Protesters unfurl a 12-metre banner spanning the full height of the Science Museum's Energy Hall reading ‘Adani off our lands and out of this museum'
25 Mar 2024

The Science Museum has been criticsed for links with fossil fuel sponsors BP, Equinor and Adani.

Activists target Science Museum over fossil fuel sponsorship

Protesters sitting in on a panel debate organised by the Science Museum
06 Feb 2024

A group of climate activists including Greta Thunberg protested the museum’s ongoing sponsorship deal with several fossil fuel corporations at a public panel debate.

Activists urge architects to boycott British Museum redesign

22 Jan 2024

Environmental campaigners are calling on architects not to take part in a contest to redesign around a third of the British Museum following a controversial £50m sponsorship deal with BP that will fund the redevelopment.

The boycott is backed by the Architects Declare network, the Section of Architectural Workers trade union, now part of Unite, and Future Architects Front (FAF).

A spokesperson for FAF told the Architects Journal: "We fully support calls for architects to reject commissions funded with oil money.

"In the context of cascading ecological collapse, it is completely indefensible for architects to knowingly work with the most blatant perpetrators of climate destruction. Such donations by oil companies are transparent acts of reputation washing, and any architect with the slightest pretence of social concern must refuse to become complicit."

British Museum signs controversial £50m deal with oil giants BP

BP petrol station sign
19 Dec 2023

New 10-year partnership with BP will support transformation described by museum as 'one of the most significant cultural redevelopment projects ever undertaken'.

Activists warn of ethical ‘loopholes’ in cultural corporate sponsorship 

National Portrait Gallery, London, June 2023
15 Nov 2023

National Portrait Gallery and Sadler's Wells have both faced criticism over the organisational links of some of their corporate sponsors.

Climate protesters target Science Museum Director 

Protesters from XR North East holding placards that say 'Science Museum funded by fossil fuels'
09 Nov 2023

Science Museum Director Sir Ian Blatchford was met by protestors as he attended the Museums Association annual conference.

Exclusive: Donor revenue for cultural sector falls by a quarter

The exterior of the Royal Opera House
02 Nov 2023

The amount of money being donated to UK cultural organisations dropped sharply last year.

Challenging sponsors in a climate crisis

Climate change activists with banners protesting inside the Science Museum
11 Oct 2023

For more than 10 years, Chris Garrard has been active in demanding accountability from some of our major cultural institutions around the ethics of accepting sponsorship.


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