7 thoughts on “BP polluters, not good British Museum sponsors

  1. Tuesday 3rd April 2016

    posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

    “INTERFERING” BP officials sought to gather information on trade unions opposing oil sponsorship at museums, documents disclosed today reveal.

    It comes as part of a damning new report into BP’s involvement with flagship cultural venues including the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the British Museum. Its author Chris Garrard says it “should appal anyone who cares about the cultural sector.”

    Emails disclosed under Freedom of Information laws reveal that the oil giant gained privileged access to Mexican government officials as part of its sponsorship of a Mexico-themed festival at the British Museum following 2010’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Mexican embassy was subsequently asked by the museum to delete the invitation list for a festival event from its system.

    Campaign group Art Not Oil, which published the report, said there was also evidence of BP being given final say on curatorial decisions for sponsored exhibitions at the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

    A British Museum insider told the report’s authors that BP behaved in a “bullying” fashion.

    When members of gallery workers’ union PCS voted to formally oppose oil sponsorship in May 2015, BP urged its “cultural partners” to help it “understand if there is an affiliation to this organisation within each of your respective establishments.”

    A National Portrait Gallery official replied, copying in the gallery’s deputy director: “Thanks for alerting me to this. I believe the PCS union does represent some gallery employees … I have shared this information with a wider group of colleagues so that we can be prepared and ready for any potential impacts.”

    A PCS spokesman said: “It’s deeply troubling that BP either does have, or feel it has, so much influence. Staff, who are often low-paid, have a legal and human right to join a trade union.

    “It’s bad enough when that’s called into question by an employer. It’s sinister when it’s questioned by a corporate sponsor.”

    The report says museum employees attended counterterrorism training days after meetings at BP offices on dealing with protesters and collaborated with the Science Museum on “advocacy plans” for the last general election.

    BP said it could not respond before the Star went to press last night. The four main museums named did not return the Star’s calls.



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