Turner Prize ends sponsorship deal with Stagecoach over LGBT rights row | Ents & Arts News

The Turner Prize has ended a sponsorship deal just a day after it was announced following an LGBT rights row.

Stagecoach South East had been confirmed to support the annual arts prize’s exhibition in Margate for the four artists in the running, who were announced earlier this week.

However, after the shortlist was revealed, the spotlight quickly turned on the decision to have the transport company as sponsor.

The firm’s chairman, Sir Brian Souter, unsuccessfully campaigned to keep a law which banned teachers and pupils from discussing homosexuality in schools in 2000.

Turner Prize 2019 - Tai Shani
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Tai Shani is also one of the four shortlisted artists…
Turner Prize 2019 - Helen Cammock, video still from The Long Note 2018
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…along with Helen Cammock…

Turner Prize 2019 - Lawrence Abu Hamdan, installation view of Earwitness Inventory at Chisenhale Gallery, London 2018
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and Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Turner Contemporary and the Tate gallery, which organises the annual prize, have now said the sponsorship has been ended by “mutual agreement”.

“Turner Contemporary and Tate’s highest priority is to show and celebrate artists and their work,” they said in a statement.

“The Turner Prize celebrates the creative freedoms of the visual arts community and our wider society.

“By mutual agreement, we will not proceed with Stagecoach South East’s sponsorship of this year’s prize.”

Glasgow artist Charlotte Prodger wins the 2018 Turner Prize
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Glasgow artist Charlotte Prodger won the 2018 prize with her film about ‘queer identity’

The transport firm said in a statement: “Stagecoach South East has mutually agreed with Turner Contemporary and Tate not to continue with the company’s sponsorship of the 2019 Turner Prize.

“We are absolutely committed to diversity in our company; however, we do not want anything to distract from celebrating the Turner Prize artists and their work.”

There was an awkward silence at the news conference to unveil the shortlist when it was asked if anyone had considered the choice of sponsorship a bad idea.

Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson said that picking a sponsor “is very much a matter for the hosting venue”.

Victoria Pomery, director of Turner Contemporary, said Stagecoach South East was good for the area, adding: “I think the service that they provide is first rate.”

Mr Farquharson later told journalists: “I think that’s probably enough on sponsors.”

The 2018 Turner Prize was won by artist Charlotte Prodger with a film about “queer identity” and her experience of coming out as gay in rural Scotland, which was shot on an iPhone.

The £25,000 art prize, named after English painter JMW Turner, is presented annually to a British visual artist.

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