Wednesday, October 8, 2014

corporate sponsorhsip of the arts...and everything else

The majority of great artists were poor in their own lifetimes, relying upon some kind of sponsorship/patronage from wealthy clients, the source of whose income I am sure they did not have the luxury of questioning. In this age of branding and mass disinformation, every business with a public profile is keen to enhance its own reputation.  Cultural affiliation has long been accepted by society's grandees as a way of concealing or distracting from bad behaviour in other arenas.

Indeed from JD Rockefeller through JP Morgan and onwards, we all could name a rogue's gallery of famous philanthropists. Out of the massive profits accumulated by corporations and individuals through unnecessary exploitation of resources, human and natural, shady dealings, outright crimes and through what passes for 'good business acumen', it costs a fraction to erase unpleasant memories and divert critical attention elsewhere.

So I can see simultaneous pointlessness and merit in exposing the degrading behaviour of organisations like the Tate gallery in London (currently fighting efforts to reveal the extent of their sponsorship deal with BP) who really ought to know better and value their public mandate more, but at least it is highlighted and ridiculed in Britain. Here in Ireland such intimate relations between public and private bodies usually go unquestioned and any whiff of corruption is dispelled by media groups who may be observed to hold themselves faithfully and obediently in thrall to corporate interests.