I wrote this short article for the Quaker journal The Friend in 2012 about corporate sponsorship of the arts, which often masquerades as philanthropy. In reality, the arts don’t get much money from it (about 5-10% of the budgets of major arts organisations) but some of the most harmful big business get a lot of free advertising and the chance to represent themselves to the public as social and ecological benefactors.
I wanted to write something on the subject after the poet Alice Oswald withdrew from T S Eliot prize, having been shortlisted for it, once she found out that its major sponsor was a hedge fund. Hedge funds are notoriously rapacious companies, which are happy to gamble on the failure of others to make a buck for themselves. Or a billion bucks.
The title is the editor’s. I wasn’t really thinking of conscience, but power – to whom does culture belong? It’s here.