The Information Tribunal has given Tate 35 days to disclose the amount of money it received from BP between 1990 and 2006, but more recent sponsorship deals will remain secret.
Martin LeSanto-Smith 2013
An almost three-year long legal battle between Tate and art activists has come to an end with the UK’s Information Tribunal ordering Tate to disclose details of its sponsorship deal with oil firm BP. The gallery has been given 35 days to disclose the sum of money it received from BP between 1990 and 2006, and details of internal decision-making on the deal. The sums for more recent sponsorship agreements will remain secret, as the Tribunal agreed with Tate that disclosure “would materially weaken Tate’s bargaining position in its negotiations with other sponsors”.
Tate argued in court that disclosing information about the sponsorship agreement and its internal decision-making around this would risk upsetting BP, potentially prejudicing its relationship with the oil firm, and may deter other prospective sponsors. The Tribunal found this concern “somewhat fanciful”, concluding: “It would be most surprising if BP expected Tate not to give careful consideration to whether any of the controversies arising from BP’s activities should impact on the continuance of the sponsorship relationship.” Tate also admitted to the court that it feared “protests might intensify” if the raw facts of the deal were revealed and that this would present a risk to health and safety, but the Tribunal were “wholly unpersuaded” by this argument.
Anna Galkina of campaign group Platform, which requested the information originally under Freedom of Information, said: “We are delighted the sponsorship figures will be revealed. Tate’s sponsorship deal provides BP with a veneer of respectability when in reality it is trashing the climate, and involved with a series of environmental and human rights controversies all around the world. BP is desperate to maintain its ‘social licence’ through arts sponsorship. But Tate can do without BP, considering the deal is likely worth less than 0.5% of Tate’s budget. Sponsorship secrecy makes BP seem more indispensible than it really is - and our culture must dispense with oil corporations.”
Tate and campaigners have 28 days to appeal the Tribunal’s decision.