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Institutions

This page aims to provide a current picture about oil sponsorship of major cultural institutions in the UK, and to offer a bit of a reflection on the wins the movement has enjoyed since starting to campaign to end oil sponsorship.

As of October 2018, the main British cultural institutions who have dropped fossil fuel sponsorship completely (most following significant creative campaigns) are Tate, Edinburgh International Festival and the National Gallery. The Southbank Centre ended Shell's sponsorship of the Shell Classic International series of concerts after a series of singing protests although they are still a corporate partner. The Natural History Museum used to be sponsored by Shell (specifically the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award). Under pressure, it shifted to DONG Energy/Orsted which has now divested from fossil fuels.

And it is not just in the UK that the campaign to clean up cultural sponsorship is winning. Wins from around the world include the Canadian Museum of History, American Museum of Natural History (and David Koch was also forced to resign from its board), Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Field Museum in Chicago, Mauritshuis and Museon in The Hague and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Below are listed the major British cultural institutions who have - or used to have – ties to the oil industry. We encourage you to let them know how you feel about their acceptance of climate-changing funding (or how supportive you are of decisions to drop oil sponsors - see below for contact details). Information and inspiration about why oil sponsors do not belong in museums can be found at the Behind the Logos website. Copy us in to your email correspondence at info@artnotoil.org.uk and do share it on social media!

This information was correct as of October 2018. Feel free to contact us with further information and updates about fossil-fuel funding of these or other UK-based organisations.


 

British Film Institute

BP used to be a corporate member but has been dropped.

Shell, which for a while was also dropped by the BFI, is now back on their corporate partners list

 

British Museum

BP is a current 'Global Partner', supporting the public programme annually since 1996 and a sponsor of major exhibitions. They funded the BP Lecture Theatre, as well as various touring exhibitions, the major Vikings exhibition in 2014, the Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation exhibition in 2015, Sunken Cities in 2016 and the 2017 Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia exhibition. The contract was renewed in July 2016, for a new commitment period from 2018 - 2022. The first BP exhibition for this new period is ' I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria'.

Contacts for British Museum

Hartwig Fischer, Director

Address: British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

Email: directorate@britishmuseum.org and copy to information@britishmuseum.org  

Tel: 020 7323 8000/8299

Twitter @britishmuseum

 

Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival was sponsored by BP for 34 years until 2015. In 2016, following protests the previous year by Art Not Oil members and allies, the Festival revealed that this sponsorship deal had ended.

 

Kew Gardens

Current corporate members include GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC, and Tullow Oil, a 'leading independent oil exploration and production company, focused on finding and monetising oil in Africa and the Atlantic Margins.'

"We have a fantastic relationship with Kew. Our Corporate Membership gives us a great way to motivate staff, and demonstrate our commitment to the environment." (Karen Ali, Tullow Oil)

Contacts for Kew

Director: Richard Deverell

020 8332 5000; info@kew.org

Membership: 020 8332 3200; friends@kew.org

 

National Gallery

For a long time Shell was a regular sponsor of major exhibitions, including the Rembrandt exhibition in 2015. Recently however we were pleased to learn that Shell has ended its sponsorship of the National Gallery (though they are planning to instead focus on influencing science education).

Contacts for NG

Gabriele Finaldi, Director

Address: Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN

Email: gabriele.finaldi@ng-london.org.uk and copy to

information@ng-london.org.uk

Tel: 020 7747 2885

 

National Portrait Gallery

The high-profile BP Portrait Award has been going for 25 years. NPG is one of the 'big four' who have a rolling 5-year sponsorship deal with BP (along with Royal Shakespeare Company, British Museum and Royal Opera House). The contract was renewed in July 2016, for a new commitment period from 2018 - 2022.

Contacts for NPG

The Director is Nicholas Cullinan.

Email: ncullinan@npg.org.uk

Phone: for complaints, suggestions or praise +44 (0)20 7321 6610

 

National Maritime Museum

Part of the Royal Museums Greenwich group. Happily no longer supported by BP Shipping Ltd and Shell Shipping, but - unhappily - now supported by Boeing and HSBC.

Contacts for NMM

Kevin Fewster, Director

Address: NMM, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF

Email: kfewster@rmg.co.uk and copy to press@rmg.co.uk

Tel: 020 8858 4422

Twitter @NMMGreenwich

 

National Theatre

Shell has sponsored a series of classical dramas at the National Theatre and used to be a top-level corporate partner. After being downgraded to ‘Platinum Member’, it was recently downgraded further to ‘Gold’. Current partners such as the Delta Airlines gain anonymity about their perks, while at a lower level, Gold Members such as Shell are offered a wide range of hospitality, tickets and behind-the-scenes opportunities. The fossil fuel financing Royal Bank of Canada which used to be a top-level partner, is no longer a sponsor.

Contacts for NT

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director. 

Address: NT, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Email: rnorris@nationaltheatre.org.uk and copy to Nick Starr, Executive Director nstarr@nationaltheatre.org.uk and feedback@nationaltheatre.org.uk  

Tel: 020 7452 3400

Twitter: @NationalTheatre

 

Natural History Museum

The Museum’s mission is deeply ecological: ‘Through our collections and scientific expertise, we are helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in more than 68 countries.’ In 2014 we were pleased to see it had ended most of its relationship with both BP and Shell. The museum replaced them with Dong Energy, which at the time was still involved in oil and gas extraction. However, in 2017 Dong Energy changed its name to Ørsted and has since sold all its oil and gas business and is now producing energy from renewable sources only.

In the past, Shell was sponsor of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, until protests by the Art Not Oil campaign resulted in the end of that deal. But Shell continued for another few years as a ‘Diamond Level’ Corporate Member, as was BP. ‘Emerald Level’ Corporate Members still include mining goliath Rio Tinto and BP is currently supporting the museum’s BP micropalaeontology research project.

This project is part of museum’s wider micropalaenology research, which is used “to reconstruct past environments and locate hydrocarbon reserves buried deep underground.” The museum offers this expertise as a consultancy service to oil and gas companies.

One of the biggest individual donors to the NHM is British-Australian billionaire hedge-fund manager, Michael Hintze. His £5 million donation has earned him a gallery named after him.

Contacts for NHM

Michael Dixon, Director

Address: NHM, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

Email: m.dixon@nhm.ac.uk and/or email via the contact form

Tel: 020 7942 5000

Twitter: @NHM_London

 

Royal Opera House

The ROH includes the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet, the ROH Orchestra and the ROH Chorus. ROH also runs the cultural education ‘bridge’ organisation for ACE, for schools in four English counties. The upper echelon of ROH funders known as the ‘Chairman's Circle’, includes BP, which funds the ‘BP Big Screens’ programme of video link-ups across the UK. The ROH's contract with BP was renewed in July 2016 for a new commitment period from 2018 - 2022.

Also on the list of ROH funders is BB Energy Holdings (at the 'Director's Circle' level), which is connected to oil refining and other aspects of the oil industry, and Rio Tinto is listed as a corporate sponsor.

The ROH's CEO, Alex Beard, sits on the philanthropy board of the DCMS which encourages greater corporate sponsorship in the sector.

Contacts for ROH

Alex Beard, CEO

Address: ROH, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD

Email: alex.beard@roh.org.uk and copy to more contacts here

Tel: 020 7240 1200

Twitter: @RoyalOperaHouse

 

Royal Shakespeare Company

BP is a Corporate Partner of the RSC. It sponsored a major series of plays at the RSC in 2012, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. It is currently supporting 'BP £5 Tickets', the RSC's initiative to provide cheap theatre tickets to 16-25 year olds. For the first time, in July 2016, the RSC signed a 5-year contract with BP, due to run from 2018 to 2022.

Contacts for RSC

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director

Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director

Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director

Address: RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB

To email, use the contact form

Tel: 0844 800 1110

Twitter: @TheRSC

 

Science Museum Group

The Science Museum in Kensington is the largest of the museums in the Group, which includes the National Media Museum in Bradford, the National Railway Museum in York, The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester (formerly MOSI) and other venues. Both BP and Shell are top-level Corporate Partners, with their support most visible in London, where Shell sponsored 'Atmosphere', the Science Museum’s permanent exhibit exploring climate science, until it was exposed in 2015 for influencing the content of this exhibit, and its contract was not renewed. In 2016, BP sponsored the 'Cosmonauts' exhibition, and the museum launched a new permanent children's gallery 'Wonderlab', sponsored by Norwegian oil company Equinor (formerly Statoil).

Contacts for SMG

Ian Blatchford, Director

Address: Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD

Email: ian.blatchford@sciencemuseum.org.uk and copy to enquiries@sciencemuseum.org.uk

Tel: 0870 870 4868

Twitter: @sciencemuseum

 

Southbank Centre

'Shell Classic International' used to be the most visible expression of SBC’s partnership with Shell. We were pleased to hear in January 2014 that Shell has terminated the 8 year deal. However, the relationship still continues as Shell is now a ‘Corporate Supporter’. Shell has previously funded upgrades to the building - there is a ‘monument’ to this fact in the Royal Festival Hall. You may wish to ask about plans for continued sponsorship.

The current Chair of SBC’s Board of Governors is Susan Gilchrist, CEO of the Brunswick Group, which has delivered corporate communications for Shell. Previous board members with close ties to the oil industry are no longer on the board

Contacts for SBC

Chief Executive: Elaine Bedell

Artistic Director: Jude Kelly

Address: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX;

Email: jude.kelly@southbankcentre.co.uk and copy to alix.wooding@southbankcentre.co.uk

Twitter @southbankcentre

 

Tate

BP was a major sponsor of Tate from 1990 until 2016. The sponsorship deal was last renewed in December 2011 despite massive opposition from Tate members, visitors and the wider public as well artists. In 2013 Tate Britain’s main collection was rebranded the 'BP Walk Through British Art'.

In 2016, Tate revealed that the deal with BP would not be renewed - a major victory for the artists and campaigners who had opposed the deal. For more on the story of Tate and BP, see Liberate Tate.

 

Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A Museum has a comparatively good history in relation to oil sponsorship, although a 2013 touring exhibition about Pearls was sponsored by Shell and Qatar Gas.

Contacts for V&A

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director

Address: V&A Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2RL

Email: development@vam.ac.uk and copy to press.office@vam.ac.uk

Tel: 0207 942 2000

Twitter: @v_and_a

 

Wallace Collection

TOTAL used to be listed as a Corporate Member.

However, the website no longer lists the collection's corporate sponsors, nor does its 2017-18 Annual Report, so we are not sure of the current situation.

Contacts for Wallace Collection:

Director: Dr Xavier Bray, Xavier.Bray@wallacecollection.org

For enquiries concerning governance: lauren.tilley@wallacecollection.org

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN

Telephone +44 (0)207 563 9500