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15 April 2011

Tate Modern targeted by anti-BP flashmob protest

Protesters angry at BP’s failures over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will descend on Tate Modern this Sunday in protest at the gallery’s links with the beleaguered oil giant.

Next Wednesday will see the anniversary of the Gulf spill, and direct action groups London Rising Tide and Art Not Oil are planning a flashmob at Tate Modern to commemorate the disaster [1].

The group is using Facebook and Twitter to mobilise followers to attend the highly visual protest. Hundreds of people are expected to take part in a ‘BP-sponsored sleep-in’ among the art works and visitors of the gallery. At 2:15PM exactly the participants will spontaneously break from the crowds to don BP branding and fall asleep on the gallery floor [2].

The protest will remind Tate members and visitors that the gallery is sponsored by BP, and express a wider concern that sponsorship of the arts helps to distract public attention from the environmental damage the oil company causes, including the Gulf spill [3].

The event is aimed at damaging BP’s brand, and comes as the company has mounted a major PR campaign in an effort to deflect criticism around the anniversary of the oil spill [4].  At its annual general meeting, the company faced an angry coalition of shareholders, campaigners and residents from the Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian tar sands [5].

Tony Cottee of Rising Tide said: “Sponsorship of galleries such as Tate is one of the most important ways BP tries to buy the public’s acceptance and make people forget about disasters such as the Gulf of Mexico spill. We are here to make sure they don’t get away with it, and to warn Tate that their own reputation is at risk through their association with such a damaged and damaging company.”

He continued: “It’s clear that BP has learnt nothing over the last year. The time has now come for Tate to say, ‘enough is enough’, and break off their relationship with BP once and for all.”

The protest is part of a week of direct action against BP-sponsored cultural institutions, coordinated by groups including London Rising Tide, Art Not Oil, London Climate Camp, Climate Rush and Liberate Tate.


For more information, interviews and photo and video footage:  Tony Cottee of London Rising Tide,  / 07858 177 178 or 07708 794 665.

Notes to Editors

1. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill took place on 20th April 2010. The disaster was caused by the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers and triggered the largest marine oil spill in history. Since the spill BP has continued to expand into unconventional oil sources, despite the high risks and the impact on the climate. Campaigners’ key concerns include:

•        Re-opened deep-sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The US moratorium on BP Gulf drilling was recently lifted, with BP granted permits for 10 new deepwater oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico since April 1st 2011.

•        High-polluting tar sands extraction in Canada. In December 2010, BP announced it was releasing $2.5 billion to move forward with the Sunrise Project in northern Canada.

•        Arctic drilling. Despite continuing disputes between the US and Russia over ownership of Arctic resources, BP is pushing ahead with a $7.8B deal with Russian state oil producer Rosneft to begin oil exploration above the Arctic circle.

2. More information on the planned protest can be found at:

3. More information on the case against oil sponsorship of the arts can be found at:

4. BP spent more than $90m on PR in the first three months of the spill, and has been running  full-page advertisements in the national press all week.


6. The Tate group, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Science Museum, National History Museum, Royal Opera House, National Theatre and National Maritime Museum all accept sponsorship from BP. The Almeida Theatre recently announced that it no longer accepts sponsorship money from BP.

Groups taking part in the week of protests include:  Art Not Oil, London Climate Camp, Climate Rush, Indigenous Environmental Network, Liberate Tate, London Rising Tide and the UK Tar Sands Network. Many of the groups taking part in the week of protests were involved in the wave of protests that hit Tate and other London galleries last summer.

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