, 12 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
THREAD | The Editorial Board at the @FT have put together an op-ed claiming 'Corporate arts patrons deserve praise not blame' and that protests against unethical sponsors and donors are counterproductive. Here's some of the flaws in their argument... ft.com/content/583a31… 1/12
The terms 'business donors', 'private patrons' and 'corporate donors' are used interchangably but are fundamentally different in nature. Crucially, the protests cited are not 'anti-business' as the piece suggests, but anti-unethical/explotative businesses e.g. arms and oil 2/12
They note that 'listed companies such as @bp_plc, @BAESystemsplc are at least overseen by shareholders and regulators'. The irony is that sponsorship deals are cheap and effective ways of deflecting attention from when regulators do catch up with unethical companies... 3/12
...and for BP, 'regulation' took the form of the largest corporate criminal fine in US history + being found grossly negligent over its #deepwaterhorizon disaster. theguardian.com/environment/20… 4/12
You can be a 'listed company' yet break laws, back repressive regimes and violate human rights. It is thorough research and due diligence that should determine whether a corporate sponsor is appropriate, guided by the org's own ethical position. behindthelogos.org/trampling-huma… 5/12
They claim, 'To condemn all sponsorship as reputational #artwashing is silly.' But corporate sponsorship is fundamentally transactional in nature - companies like BP demonstrably use sponsorships to shore up their influence + 'social license'. theguardian.com/culture/2016/a… 6/12
They argue that, 'Corporate benefactors remain a key part of arts funding'. But again, the donations of *unethical* companies (such as arms, oil, tobacco) only represent very small proportions of overall budgets, particularly for large orgs such as the @britishmuseum... 7/12
...Orgs can adopt an ethically consistent position, reject oil/arms sponsorship + not risk their core work. We should also interrogate the extent to which BP et al genuinely bolster taxpayer funding of the arts - or are a drain on taxpayers' money > priceofoil.org/2017/05/12/who… 8/12
Correctly, they say 'It is the right and duty of any arts org to vet benefactors meticulously'. The standards are clear but the likes of @NPGLondon and @sciencemuseum group are not fulfilling that duty, even when a sponsor conflicts w/their ethics... artsprofessional.co.uk/news/national-… 9/12
To sum up: protesters + artists are quite rightly scrutinising *unethical* sponsors and holding arts orgs to account for the decisions they make - ensuring they walk the talk. (Care about #climatechange? Don't take money from BP) 10/12 cultureunstained.org/ethicalsponsor…
Characterising the concern with 'ethical sponsorship' as being 'anti business' or 'anti patronage' muddies the waters and misrepresents the true focus of the debate. 11/12
But as the writers do note, 'The line of [ethical] acceptability can shift'. Sure, the Medicis funded renaissance art but from apartheid-backing banks to tobacco companies to destructive oil giants - the ethical red line has shifted over time + a new consensus is emerging. 12/12
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