After Tate gallery management appeared before an Information Tribunal to defend their right to withhold details of the galleries’ financial relationship with oil company and Tate sponsor BP; the institution has been ordered to give those very details of its BP sponsorship between 1990-2006, in a case brought by environmental campaigners.
previously Richard Aydon, Tate’s Head of Legal, admitted that Tate feared that “protests might intensify” if the raw facts of the sponsorship were to be revealed, The Arts Professional reports. The information tribunal has ruled against Tate, which was refusing to give details, claiming the information could intensify protests and harm its ability to raise money from other companies. Now the institution must disclose the BP sponsorship figures within 35 days.
The tribunal was a follow up to news in March that the gallery was required to reveal details of internal discussions centring on the decision to renew BP sponsorship and reveal the amount of funds received by the oil giant. The ruling was part of a Freedom of Information request made by the art-activist campaign group Platform. The case for disclosure had been brought by the environmental campaigner Brendan Montague, which argues that only when the sponsorship sums are in the public domain can informed debate take place.
Anna Galkina, a spokeswoman for Platform, told the Guardian: “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.” Galkina added that Tate could do without BP, as the deal is likely worth less than 0.5% of its budget, concluding that: “Sponsorship secrecy makes BP seem more indispensable than it really is – and our culture must dispense with oil corporations.”
Rose Curling, from legal firm Leigh, Day & Co, which represented the campaigners, told the Guardian: “The tribunal has rightly recognised the importance of disclosing all sponsorship figures received by Tate from BP, between 1990 and 2006. Tate argued that these figures should be kept secret, that their disclosure would ‘upset’ BP and deter the company and others from becoming sponsors.”
Curling continued: “The tribunal resolutely rejected this argument and has ordered that the BP sponsorship figures are now released. Our client agrees. It is crucial these sponsorship figures are in the public domain.”
Curling stated her belief that only when the public knew the figures involved “can a properly informed debate take place about whether BP is an appropriate sponsor of the art gallery and its work”.
Tate replied to the Guardian: “Tate is considering the decision of the first-tier tribunal in the BP sponsorship freedom of information case. The tribunal upheld many of Tate’s redactions and also required the release of some elements of the FOI request, including the release of pre-2007 historic figures for BP funding. The tribunal commended Tate for being thorough and open in its approach to the case.”
Both Tate and the campaigners have 28 days to appeal the Tribunal’s decision.