Friday, March 7, 2014

Transfield withdraws from Biennale of Sydney

I have just seen the news that Transfield have withdrawn as the major partners of the Biennale of Sydney and that Luca Belgiorno-Nettis of Transfield has resigned from the Board of the Biennale.  This has happened because Transfield has been involved with offshore detention centres and has recently won a contract worth over $1 billion to operate the detention centre on Manus Island.  A number of artists involved with the Biennale were planning to withdraw from it because of this issue.

I was just having an email conversation touching on the influence of big donors on the boards of museums and public galleries.  The Biennale Board have had the courage not to let the piper call the tune on this occasion.  It is sad because the Belgiorno-Nettis family have supported the Biennale very generously since its inception, but this time it is impossible to ignore the source of the money.  Tobacco sponsorship of sport and art has long been unacceptable in Australia, so the principle of looking at where the money originates is not new.