Evidently the activists at something called UK Tar Sands Network think so. The group performed a takeoff of Swan Lake in which Odette is doused in oil as a way to disrupt an open-air live broadcast of the Royal Opera's Cinderella in Trafalgar Square. Odette dies as a way to protest BP's oilsands projects in Canada. In a nice HuffPost UK article, Nathalie Rothschild explains that the oil-soaked Swan Lake disruption is "part of a bigger drive to pressure arts institutions into refusing sponsorship from 'destructive companies,' with the goal of making it "'socially unacceptable' for cultural institutions to accept funding from 'Big Oil'."
Rothschild then asks:
So where should the money come from, especially in these times of endless austerity packages?
It seems the guerrilla arts activists haven't thought that far. But there is at least an underlying presumption in these campaigns that corporate money is tainted, impure and hides a sinister agenda, while public funding is benign and harmless. Recent history tells us otherwise.
During the New Labour years, state funding for the arts in Britain was relatively plentiful, but so were the conditions tacked on to it. This legacy lives on, as arts practitioners and institutions seeking state funding are still compelled to prove that they can meet a range of targets that have nothing to do with creating and presenting high-quality art and everything to do with fulfilling various political agendas. The price of state funding is all too often turning art into an instrument for tackling everything from racism and bullying to obesity and crime.
Rothschild of course notes that by supporting opera, museums, and so forth, companies like BP are trying to buy good PR. However, corporations rarely try to dictate the "message" of the arts they support. Their hope is that the better and more popular the art, the better the PR they garner. In contrast, it is rare that government-supported art goes untainted by politics, e.g., National Endowment for the Arts support for "Appalachian Voices" performances against strip mining or New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani Sen. Jesse Helm's attempt to censor "Piss Christ."
Corporate support arts message: Please buy our products. Government support arts message: Do this or don't do that.