BP renews controversial sponsorship of top London museums and galleries

 
Lynsey Barber
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Protesters have targeted the British Museum over the partnership with BP (Source: Getty)

BP's sponsorship of several of London's leading cultural attractions will continue for another five years despite the firm's declining profits as it struggles with low oil prices and the continued fallout from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The £7.5m commercial deal puts the name of the oil company alongside The British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company and some of the exhibitions and shows they hold.

"Our industry is going through a period of rebalancing, but our commitment to the UK and to our partners is for the long-term," said BP's UK boss Peter Mather.

But the ties have caused controversy with campaigners, claiming the links between fossil fuel companies and cultural institutions are unethical.

Read more: Bit of a blip for BP as Deepwater Horizon disaster eats into profits

BP ended its near 30-year sponsorship of the Tate Gallery earlier this year. The oil firm cited commercial pressures rather than pressure from campaigners for the move after reporting a $2.2bn loss at the start of the year.

The British Museum, which has been sponsored by BP for the last 20 years, has been targeted by protesters over the sponsorship while more than 100 leading actors, artists, scientists and more rallied together to urge the institution to end the deal or risk its reputation.

The new deal with the four institutions will last until 2023 and comes amid cuts to public funding for art and culture projects.

Read more: BP's final bill for Gulf of Mexico spill stands at $61.6bn

Greenpeace called the deal a backwards move, while the Liberate Tate campaign group said the institutions faced "a renewed wave of creative intervention".

“It’s disappointing to see that the British Museum and other great British cultural institutions are to continue to lend their famous spaces so that BP can greenwash its logo. This is a backward-looking choice that will damage the reputation of these cultural icons for a wad of oil cash," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Elena Polisano.

Shell and the Science Museum last year did not renew a five year deal which had also been targeted by campaigners, but did not rule out working together in the future.

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