Yesterday the Independent newspaper in London published an article with the headline “It’s Oil Money that Fuels our Museums” by Tiffany Jenkins that discusses the pros and cons of museums accepting money from oil companies and others who may not always take the high ground when it comes to the gathering of wealth. This has been a conversation in non profits as long as they have existed. In fact, it is a conversation in every situation where fund raising occurs. Think about political fund raising and how many politicians have shamefacedly had to hand back donations from crooks. Bernie Madoff was a trustee of several charitable organizations, and Enron senior executives were pillars in their communities. What’s a non profit to do?
Typically Jenkins suggests that arts organizations should take the money and run. Take it and turn lemons into lemonade. Others, including protesters at the Tate Modern and other museums around the world take a different view and believe that tainted money perverts institutions and should be avoided at all costs. What do you think?