Turner Prize drops Stagecoach sponsorship

Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Turner Contemporary and Tate have announced the ending of this year’s Turner Prize sponsorship deal with Stagecoach South East, a day after it was revealed. Following immediate backlash and criticism against the company, whose founder and chairman Brian Souter campaigned against gay rights and donated £1m to back a ban on teaching LGBT issues in 2000. This year’s Turner Prize nominees are Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani, whose works that tackle war crimes, women’s rights and marginalisation, will be on show at Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Turner Contemporary and Tate released a statement:
Turner Contemporary and Tate’s highest priority is to show and celebrate artists and their work. The Turner Prize celebrates the creative freedoms of the visual arts community and our wider society. By mutual agreement, we will not proceed with Stagecoach South East’s sponsorship of this year’s prize.

Stagecoach South East have said in a statement:
Stagecoach South East has mutually agreed with Turner Contemporary and Tate not to continue with the company’s sponsorship of the 2019 Turner Prize. We are absolutely committed to diversity in our company, however we do not want anything to distract from celebrating the Turner Prize artists and their work.

The ending of the sponsorship deal follows in the wake of widespread discussion and debate on the ethics of institutional sponsorship. Last year, the Design Museum came under fire for a private event hosted by Italian aerospace firm Leonardo, described as an arms dealer by campaigners, and which led to the closure of its Hope to Nope exhibition showing at the same time after artists withdrew their work in protest, while in October London’s National Gallery ended its partnership with Shell. In March, the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate rejected donations from the Sackler Trust amid claims that the family made their fortune from their company Purdue Pharma which manufactures the controversial opioid OxyContin. According to The Art Newspaper Photo London, an annual photography fair, is in the process of ending its partnership with two London hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, a country that has been condemned by the international community for the recent passing of a law against gay sex that makes it punishable by death. 

3 May 2019