Tuesday 2 August 2016 9:01 am

Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance heads a list of 200 names protesting BP's renewed sponsorship of London's arts scene

Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance is among the stars to have signed a letter slamming BP's sponsorship of London's leading cultural institutions.

Rylance, who was previously the artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, heads a list of 200 artists, scientists and campaigners condemning the oil giant's association with the arts scene.

BP renewed its sponsorship of the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company last week.

The deal guaranteed £7.5m in funding over five years for the institutions, and speaking at the time, BP group regional vice president for Europe Peter Mather said he hoped the firm's backing would support "engaging, educational and powerful exhibitions and performances"

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However, the letter, also signed by actor Ezra Miller, author Naomi Klein and artist Conrad Atkinson described the sponsorship as “outdated and unacceptable”, and noted that it equates to £375,000 per institution per year.

“This is less than the cost of a short billboard campaign,” the letter says.

“We believe museums, theatres and galleries are public institutions that must play a positive role in taking urgent climate action and defending human rights. We know now that BP sponsorship comes with strings attached.”

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said any suggestion that BP influenced its programme is “completely untrue”, adding that the firm's backing had allowed the museum to host exhibitions and events with "a great public benefit."

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

BP has sponsored the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery for more than 20 years. It began backing the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011.