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Will activists bring the curtain down on corporate arts funding? 

IbyIMD+ Published 10 July 2024 in Creativity • 7 min read

A rise in climate change protests against leading arts institutions spells trouble for the future of corporate sponsorship. Companies and cultural organizations must learn to manage the risks.

Chris Garrard, co-founder of the campaign organization Culture Unstained, has had a successful run. His group, which campaigns against fossil fuel companies’ sponsorship of the arts, is celebrating: many of the UK’s leading cultural institutions have cut their links with energy giants.

In the last few years, the Tate art galleries, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company have ended their relationships with BP. The National Gallery, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, and the Southbank Centre no longer have ties with Shell. Some of these links go back decades. BP had sponsored the Royal Opera House for 33 years and the National Portrait Gallery for 30. “I think we’ve seen a real shift across the whole sector, a turning of the tide,” says Garrard.

One significant holdout against the campaigners is the British Museum, which in December announced that its long-standing relationship with BP would continue, with…

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