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Four UK Institutions Renew BP Sponsorships as Activists Promise to Escalate Protests

British Petroleum has announced that it will renew its sponsorship deals with four UK institutions. The oil giant will invest more than $10 million in the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company over the next five years.

Activists who have long contested BP’s partnerships with these cultural institutions responded to the announcement with the promise to organize more demonstrations.

According to The Guardian, Chris Garrard, a spokesperson for BP or Not BP—a campaign group that has held eighteen performance protests at the British Museum—said, “At a time when the world needs to urgently shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that these institutions will still be promoting an oil company into the 2020s is deeply irresponsible.”

Anna Galkina, a member of the group Platform London, said, “BP is ripping off our cultural institutions—their sponsorship provides less than 0.5% of the British Museum’s budget. With this pocket change, BP buys legitimacy, access to invaluable advertising space, and masks its role in destroying indigenous lands, arming dictatorships and wrecking our climate.” She added, “The museums help BP do that. That’s why art interventions and protests against BP will go on. The new deals will not last five years.”

Nicholas Cullinan, director of the NPG, said that the company’s support of the arts is vital at a time when just this past year the UK announced sweeping cuts to the national arts budget. “We are extremely grateful for and proud of this ongoing partnership, for such longevity and loyalty is unique in corporate sponsorship.”

In a statement, British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said, “BP has supported the British Museum for the past twenty years which has enabled the museum to host magnificent exhibitions and events with a great public benefit.”

Earlier this year, both Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival decided not to renew their partnerships with BP.