Oil companies aren't known for their ethics. Last month an ExxonMobil pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, wreaked havoc in the small town, destroying people's houses, gardens and local wildlife. Exxon initially claimed that the spill was not due to the Pegasus pipeline. Then, they said the size of the spill was a lot smaller than it really was. Reporters who attempted to access the site were harassed and threatened with arrest, footage was taken of Exxon employees attempting to soak up the giant spill using paper towels, and Exxon somehow wangled a way to oversee a no-fly zone over the site. Recently, Arkansas law enforcement officers were found to have been paid by Exxon to work for them as 'private security', while wearing their official work uniforms.
It doesn't leave you feeling confident about working with these companies, does it?
The same week, a spill of 30,000 gallons of Canadian tar sands oil occurred in Minnesota.
You might not feel so bad about it all if you knew that the companies would be held accountable for their actions.
But oil companies rarely are. Just last week, a Supreme Court ruling blocked relatives of murdered activists in the Niger Delta from bringing a legal case against Shell in the US.
It almost puts BP in a good light, until you remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010; CEO Tony Hayward's initial response that the millions of gallons spilled was an insignificant amount, the cover ups surrounding the spill, and the fact that it continued for months and was confronted with a poor clean up response, which in many ways led to a worsening of the problem.
It doesn't fill you with confidence that the oil industry's investment in a fragile area of British culture can be trusted.
This is why grassroots campaigns like Liberate Tate and Shell Out Sounds say that oil sponsorship of the arts has to end. Liberate Tate aim to highlight BP's wrongdoings abroad by protesting the oil giant's involvement at home - in the Tate Modern. This week, LT activists are live-streaming themselves whispering transcripts of courtroom proceedings of the ongoing BP trial, from within the Tate. The three live-streams of the different performers are available to watch, separately or simultaneously, on their website.
One Liberate Tate activist said: "You can't separate BP's arts sponsorship from irrevocable damage it does to the climate and communities."
Liberate Tate will be performing in the Tate every day this week between 3 - 4pm.
Can you make good art without oil money? Of course. You can start by using your voice, but spreading the words using the hashtag #allrise will help too.Suggest a correction