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Climate campaigners on Saturday (14 May 2016) took over a portrait gallery in Belfast to protest against oil companies sponsoring the arts in the UK.

Members Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, along with allies from of the student divestment campaign Fossil Free QUB, staged an action in the BP Portrait Awards Exhibition[1], which is currently on show at the Ulster Museum as part of its UK tour.

The activists unveiled a photograph of an oil-drenched pelican that was a victim of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 [2], which caused 3 to 4 million barrels of crude oil to flood the Gulf of Mexico.

There have recently been a number of such actions around the UK by campaign group Art Not Oil [3], including a mock oil spill, made of black umbrellas, at the British Museum [4].

The campaign has also issued a report [5] highlighting the bullying antics and corrupting influence surrounding BPs cultural sponsorship efforts.

A member of Fossil Free QUB said:

"BP is not a suitable sponsor for cultural assets like the National Portrait Gallery, or our precious Ulster Museum.  Their funding of this excellent exhibition is blood money.  These are profits of oppression, pollution and climate change.

"This company is not some generous uncle, but a rogue actor whose continued success relies on radical climate destabilisation that threatens us all.  If we silently accept BP as a sponsor for events like these, we all suffer."

Niall Bakewell of Friends of the Earth said:

"BP has had many opportunities over the last two decades to shift its investment to clean, green energy solutions, but it would rather continue to chase after new reserves of oil and gas that will fry the planet and risk further mega-disasters in the process of exploration.

"That they are then funnelling some of their deadly profits into arts sponsorship in an effort to distract attention from their reckless greed is something that none of us should tolerate, especially not our venerable museums, galleries and theatres.  We want all fossil fuel money out of the arts, and as part of a global divestment movement we will continue to bear witness to those arts and science bodies who take dirty money from big oil."


For further information please listen to this BBC programme on the issue of BP’s sponsorship of the arts and science 






For further information, please contact Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland on 028 9023 3488.


Published by Friends of the Earth Ltd