Belfast Telegraph

Oil giant BP slashes UK arts sponsorship deals by £2.5 million

BP has announced a £2.5 million cut in sponsorship to Britain's leading cultural institutions.

The oil giant has renewed its funding of the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House despite protests over its funding of the arts bodies.

It will be sponsoring the three institutions, as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company, with £7.5 million over five years from 2018.

This compares to £10 million for the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and Tate Britain over the previous five years.

BP announced in March that it was to end its sponsorship of the Tate in 2017, after 26 years.

It denied that the decision was due to opposition from environmental campaigners and instead blamed a fall in prices in the oil and gas market.

The company said that its "industry is going through a period of rebalancing, but our commitment to the UK and to our partners is for the long-term".

A BP spokeswoman added today: "In oil and gas, we have been cutting costs and reducing staff numbers and we could not continue all of our sponsorships at the same level."

In April, actors, including Mark Rylance and Emma Thompson, and politicians such as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, wrote to the director of the British Museum calling on him to drop BP as a sponsor, saying that " the company is using its influence to lobby against effective climate policies" .

British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said today: "BP has supported the British Museum for the past 20 years, which has enabled the museum to host magnificent exhibitions and events with a great public benefit.

"From understanding the Emperor Hadrian and the legend of the Vikings, to the significance of Indigenous Australia and the Mexican Day of the Dead, these exhibitions and events have been enjoyed by millions of visitors to the museum and have deepened understanding of the world's many cultures and their interconnectedness.

"The museum is grateful to BP who have confirmed they will continue to support the British Museum exhibition programme for a further five years".

Earlier this year, environmental campaigners closed the British Museum as they scaled its columns in protest against sponsorship by BP.

Last year, a flash mob invaded the museum, accusing oil companies of "doing all they can to prevent meaningful action on climate change" and of cultural institutions in "endorsing them in doing it".

Protesters also scrawled climate change messages in charcoal on the floor of Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.