Turner Prize halts Stagecoach sponsorship amid LGBT rights row

Turner Prize drops Stagecoach sponsorship over LGBT controversy

Just one day after The Turner Prize named Stagecoach South East as the lead sponsor of its 2019 awards, the deal has come to an end by "mutual agreement."

The business was scheduled to support an exhibition of the four shortlisted artists at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. However, the decision sparked an LGBT rights row after questions were raised over the suitability of the deal.

The controversy centred around how the views of Stagecoach co-founder, Brian Souter, aligned with an event seen to be a diverse celebration of contemporary art.

Souter's views on LGBT rights have been scrutinised since his decision to donate £1m in 2000 towards the 'Keep the Clause' campaign; which supported the anti-gay section 28 in Scottish law, banning teachers and pupils from discussing homosexuality in schools.

Originally, The Turner Prize responded by arguing that the choice of sponsor was made by the venue - Turner Contemporary in Margate. However, the deal has since been called off.

A Stagecoach spokesperson said it had mutually agreed with Turner Contemporary and Tate not to continue with the company's sponsorship, saying it was "absolutely committed to diversity in our company, however, we do not want anything to distract from celebrating the Turner prize artists and their work.”

Turner Contemporary responded to say its highest priority was to show and celebrate artists and their work, and that it had agreed to "not proceed with Stagecoach South East’s sponsorship of this year’s prize.”

This isn't the first time this year arts sponsorship has hit headlines. The contemporary artist Nan Goldin threatened to boycott the National Gallery earlier this year after it accepted a £1m gift from the Sackler foundation - run by a family which has profiteered from the controversial OxyContin drug.

Also this year, the British Museum came under fire from protestors criticised its BP sponsorship. Hundreds of activists occupied the internal space, accusing the multinational of lobbying the UK government to help it gain access to Iraq's oil reserves during the war in the country.

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