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A BRIEF CONTEXT 

      Arts washing involves strategically using art exhibitions, festivals, or sponsorship of cultural venues, to enhance the image of companies, corporations and banks. By associating themselves with positive cultural initiatives, they aim to create a more favourable public perception by appearing socially responsible and philanthropic. In turn, they mask and deflect attention from the negative impacts of their core business activities and harmful actions, policies, or practices. 

      There are numerous examples of cultural organisations, festivals, and exhibitions that take unethical funding. Below focuses on three based in the UK:

 

ADANI & THE SCIENCE MUSEUM 

      Announced in October 2021, the Science Museum in London has partnered with Adani in a multimillion-pound sponsorship deal. 

      Adani is an Indian-owned, multi-national corporation comprised of a group of companies with wide-ranging financial interests. They are marked by a history of human rights abuses, fraud, stock manipulation and environmental destruction.

      Adani has joint ventures with Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest armaments manufacturer and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), whilst also acquiring 70% of the port in Haifa.

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BP & THE BRITISH MUSEUM

      British Petroleum (BP) has sponsored the British Museum for 27 years. In December 2023 the museum entered into a new ten-year sponsorship deal with BP worth 50 million, the largest single corporate donation to the arts in the UK to date.

      BP are a multinational oil and gas firm that is not only a driving force behind the climate crisis but has a 100-year record of exploiting invasion, colonialism and displacement across the Middle East. In October 2023, Israel announced BP were one of six companies awarded licenses to explore and discover new offshore natural gas fields.

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BARCLAYS BANK & SADLERS WELLS

       “Barclays has long seen the value of sponsorship as part of our business strategy… We have a history of using sponsorships to make our brand different” Barclays Bank

      A 2022 report commissioned by War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Campaign Against the Arms Trade, shows Barclays owns shares worth over £1.3 billion in companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology. In addition to profiting from such arms sales, Barclays provides Elbit Systems, Raytheon and Caterpillar with over £4 billion worth of loans and other financial services. 

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EXAMPLES OF ACTION TO INSPIRE YOUR OWN

ORGANISE A
CREATIVE PROTEST

PARENTS FOR PALESTINE staged a creative protest at the Science Museum over its association with the Adani Group. They dropped thousands of leaflets with the names and ages of children killed in Gaza from the second-floor balcony.

OCCUPY THE SPACE
& DEMAND CHANGE

ENERGY EMBARGO FOR PALESTINE staged a sit-in demonstration at the British Museum to object to the London institution accepting funding from oil giant BP.

INVADE THE STAGE

Cultural Workers Against Genocide stage invasion

ARTISTS AGAINST GENOCIDE attempted to invade the stage at Sadler Wells in opposition to their funding froms Barclays Bank.

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