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'The tide is turning' as more British cultural institutions cut ties with BP

Dance protest outside Scottish Ballet in Glasgow during COP26, November 2021
Dance protest outside Scottish Ballet in Glasgow during COP26, November 2021 Copyright (BP or not BP?)
Copyright (BP or not BP?)
By David Mac Dougall with AFP
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'The tide is turning' as more British cultural institutions cut ties with BP. This week the National Portrait Gallery and Scottish Ballet said they're ending their sponsorship deals over fossil fuel concerns.

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Two major British cultural institutions have cut ties with BP this week in a move hailed by climate change campaigners as a victory over the global energy giant.

On Wednesday Scottish Ballet announced it had ended its decade-long partnership on January 31st, saying BP's activities were not in line with the ballet company's plans to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Scottish Ballet said it was "grateful for BP's long-term support" but had come to the "natural conclusion" that the partnership should end.

Scotland's national ballet company has recently come under pressure from activists over its BP links, including a dance protest staged outside its Glasgow theatre during COP26 last November. Campaign groups want arts and cultural organisations to stop taking funding from oil and gas companies over greenwashing claims.

A BP spokesperson told Euronews they've supported arts and culture in Scotland for decades, helping to bring world-class performances and experiences to communities across the country.

"We are proud of our partnership with Scottish Ballet, sponsoring the company for nearly 10 years and latterly supporting their sustainability strategy to help measure their carbon footprint as they start their carbon neutral journey."

(Andy Ross - Scottish Ballet)
Principal Evan Loudon in Scottish Ballet's 2021 production of The Nutcracker(Andy Ross - Scottish Ballet)

National Portrait Gallery ends BP deal

On Tuesday the National Portrait Gallery in London also announced an end to its partnership with BP, which had spanned more than 30 years.

The gallery's director Nicholas Cullinan said they were "hugely grateful" for the long-term support that BP provided, in particular funding the BP Portrait Award.

"Its funding for the Award has fostered creativity, encouraged portrait painting for over 30 years and given a platform to artists from around the world, as well as providing inspiration and enjoyment for audiences across the UK" Cullinan said in a statement.

Although a spokesperson said the end of the sponsorship deal was a mutual decision, and that environmental issues weren't a consideration, the gallery has come under a campaign of sustained pressure over its connection with BP.

In 2019 five high-profile winners of the prestigious Turner prize were among a group of artists who lobbied Nicholas Cullinan to axe the gallery's BP links.

"It's a really positive tide that the tide is turning on this issue of fossil fuel sponsorship, and in the past we saw this turning away from tobacco companies sponsoring arts and culture, and now we're seeing it with Big Oil" Chris Garrard from the campaign group Culture Unstained told Euronews.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Galleries of Scotland have already cut their ties with BP, and the National Theatre has done the same with Shell, under pressure from artists and environmental activists.

"The thing that needs to happen now is that the British Museum and the Science Museum, which should be leading the sector, are still dragging their feet and still working very closely with fossil fuel companies" says Garrard.

"And that's something we want to bring an end to."

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