100 signatures reached
To: Mr Christopher Baker and Sir John Leighton
Call on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to cut ties with BP!
We call upon the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to :
· Refuse to host the BP Portrait Awards in future years, unless a more suitable, ethically and environmentally responsible sponsor has been found, and;
· Pressure the National Portrait Gallery in London not to renew its sponsorship deal with BP when it comes to a close at the end of this year.
Why is this important?
We, the undersigned, care deeply about the arts, and equally the natural environment and the rights of humans around the world. We believe arts and cultural institutions should break their ties with oil companies such as BP, a company which has caused repeated environmental catastrophes, including the Deepwater Horizon spill, and been implicated in numerous human rights violations. Furthermore, BP is turning a profit on the continued extraction of dirty fossil fuels, pushing us towards runaway climate change, whilst lobbying against environmental laws and clean energy alternatives [1, 2].
By accepting sponsorship from BP, cultural institutions give the oil giant much-needed positive publicity, and help it to obscure the destructive reality of its activities with a veneer of respectability. At the same time, oil sponsorship taints the reputation of the institutions that accept it.
We recognise the vital importance of arts funding, particularly after public funding cuts. However BP sponsorship provides less than 1% of the annual income of the British Museum, Tate, and Royal Opera House, and just 3% of the income of the National Portrait Gallery , yet BP are allowed to place their name and logo alongside the names of these institutions, on their website and in exhibitions (despite many artists and arts workers having strong views against such branding) [4, 5]. BP needs these institutions far more than they need BP.
This is the 26th year that BP has sponsored the Portrait Awards, through an agreement with the National Portait Gallery (NPG) in London. Fortunately this agreement is due to end this year. The NPG could choose not to renew the agreement, and to find a more appropriate sponsor for the Portrait Awards. However, negotiations about renewal are already underway. The NPG will not drop BP as a sponsor without strong pressure from the public and the arts sector. We need to act now.
Over its 26 years of sponsorship, BP has repeatedly caused great harms to the environment and people; it has been responsible for multiple deadly explosions and oil spillages, including that of Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 people, decimated ecosystems and livelihoods in the Gulf of Mexico, and resulted in the largest corporate fine in history . It has traded with oppressive regimes from Azerbaijan to Libya, and has even been implicated in torture in Colombia . It has recently expanded into tar sands, an extreme form of energy production which contaminates water and tramples on indigenous rights . Worldwide, fossil fuel companies have currently laid claim to five times the volume of oil, gas and coal that humanity can burn without causing dangerous and destructive levels of global warming  - despite this, BP has stated that it will continue to explore and exploit new reserves of oil and gas into the future.
In 1989, the National Portrait Gallery ended its eight-year Portrait Award sponsorship agreement with tobacco company John Player . It is time for this national cultural institution to show such moral leadership and forward-thinking once again, by cutting ties with BP.
As a partner of the National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery can influence this decision. We call on this respected national cultural institution to put pressure on the NPG to find a more appropriate sponsor, and to refuse to host the BP Portrait Awards until a new sponsor has been found.
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