As Tate is ordered to disclose details of its sponsorship relationship with BP, Tiffany Jenkins warns that an obsession with transparency is a threat to the arts.
Should a major art museum that receives corporate sponsorship, alongside public funding, be able to control the information it puts into the public domain about that sponsorship? Should it be able to keep private certain information about its funding: about the amounts donated, the conditions placed on it by sponsors, the minutes of the meetings at which the sponsorship was discussed? These aren’t hypothetical questions. I have a particular case in mind, one that will have adverse ramifications for sponsorship of the arts, and one that suggests arts activism is now often a threat to the arts.
On 23 December, in the UK, an Information Tribunal made an important ruling on the disclosure of the Tate Gallery’s sponsorship figures, in a case brought by the environmental campaigner Brendan Montague, supported by the arts and activism charity, Platform. The case began in April 2012, when Montague made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from the Tate for details about its sponsorship from the oil company BP, including amounts given, minutes from meetings of the Tate’s ethics committee, which debated the renewal of sponsorship from BP, and any requests BP may have made for confidentiality... Keep reading on Spiked