Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

BP Sponsorship protest

Mark Brown, Activists plan oil protest at British Museum, The Guardian, 4 September 2015

3500Campaigners against oil firms sponsoring UK arts groups are to stage an all-day protest festival at the British Museum in what they claim will be their most ambitious intervention to date.

More than a dozen campaign groups are expected to converge on the museum on 13 September for “stunts, performances and creative interventions”.

Arts organisations have become used to protests over recent years but these normally arrive unannounced, without prior publicity. This time there is notice. Danny Chivers, from the group BP or not BP, part of the Art Not Oil coalition, said: “The idea is to reach out beyond the immediate coalition and get a lot of different groups on board. We are going to show the breadth of the opposition.”

The British Museum has been chosen as the venue as it was there, in December 2011, that directors of four of the biggest arts organisations – the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate and Royal Opera House – held a press conference announcing a five-year sponsorship deal worth £10m. It was meant as a show of solidarity with BP and a stand against campaigners who argued that oil companies should be dropped as sponsors.

The sponsorship deal, hailed by BP as “one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture,” is due to end in 2017, one reason for the ratcheting up of the campaign.

Chivers said: “Can you imagine? If the institutions did renew, they would be sponsored by fossil fuel companies into the 2020s when climate scientists are telling us that we need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels. The idea that they would still be having these kind of partnership deals in the 2020s is pretty extraordinary, especially when you see how little money BP gives.”

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