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by Sofia Lotto Persio
A WAVE of activists joined the theatrical protest group “BP or not BP” at the British Museum yesterday to protest against the renewal of a sponsorship deal with BP.
BP’s logo is visibly displayed on all advertisement for the museum’s latest exhibition, Sunken Cities.
To fit the marine theme, protesters performed a “splashmob,” dressing up as fish, mermaids and other underwater creatures, including a BP kraken and occupied the museum’s Great Court.
Sunday’s action was the latest in a long series of protests by the group, which is part of the Art Not Oil coalition that has been opposing financial collaboration between the arts and oil companies like BP since 2004.
Activist Danny Chivers said: “Sponsorship is a tool that BP uses to falsely present itself as a ‘responsible’ company and distract us from its real activities.
“By letting BP sponsor the sunken cities of the past, the British Museum is helping to create the sunken cities of the all-too-near future.”
The activists denounced BP’s lobbying activities against climate action and its fossil fuel operations, which contribute to climate change and natural disasters.
“They present themselves as being a caring, responsible company, while committing some of the world’s worst human rights abuses and causing runaway climate change,” an action group statement said.
In December 2011, cultural centres including the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Royal Opera House and the British Museum entered into a five-year sponsorship deal with BP worth £10 million.
The Tate is not renewing the deal, which expires in 2017. The British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company however signed a new £7.5m five-year sponsorship with BP in July.
People from the arts, sciences and academia opposed the deal in two open letters published earlier this year, before and after the sponsorship renewal, receiving altogether over 300 signatures.
In March, the Public and Commercial Services Union surveyed its staff at the British Museum revealing that only six members of staff thought the sponsorship was ethical, with 66 per cent saying they supported the aims of the protesters.
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