The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, which was to host an inaugural Trafigura Prize for young artists in November, yesterday announced its decision to drop its sponsor, rebranding the event as the Young Masters Art Prize and leaving the winner with a non-monetary offering in place of the £4,000 originally provided.
"We feel that the recent events involving Trafigura are detracting from the main purpose of the prize, which is to celebrate emerging and newly established artists," the gallery said. Clearly Cynthia Corbett wishes to distance itself and the shortlisted artists from the typhoon of bad press surrounding the oil and metals multinational.
The cachet associated with arts sponsorship is usually very effective brand management for corporate giants in crisis. Bell Pottinger, PR firm for Trafigura, offers "crisis management" services for clients facing negative press, including setting up "high-profile, hugely impactful" arts sponsorships to generate positive coverage. Another client of Bell Pottinger's is BAE Systems.
It remains to be seen whether other galleries will be as bold as Cynthia Corbett in cutting their corporate ties -- even when that means losing prize money.