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BP to invest GBP 10m in UK arts

20th December 2011

Oil giant BP has pledged to continue supporting the UK arts scene by investing GBP 10 million over the next five years, though the decision has been met with opposition in some circles.

In a special event at the British Museum, the organisation announced it will help to fund the running of the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and Tate Britain until 2017.

This is despite a number of environmental protesters arguing that BP's sponsorship of these institutions has been tainted following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year, with 8,000 people signing a petition calling for an end to BP's backing.

However, culture mister Ed Vaizey said BP had 'led the way in business support for the arts' and welcomed the 'significant investment'.

BP managing director Iain Conn acknowledged the controversy generated by the Gulf of Mexico spill, but said he will make no excuses for the fact that BP is 'at the forefront' of providing energy to the world.

British Museum director Neil MacGregor added: 'Thanks to BP's support, well over one million visitors to the British Museum have been able to get close to Michelangelo, discover the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, experience Chinese New Year and understand Ancient Persia.'

However, Sam Chase, a spokesman from the protest group Art Not Oil, argued that BP was profiting from a product that is 'destabilising the climate and making life on earth increasingly difficult for many millions of human beings and other species'.

He added that something 'fundamentally important' is lost when a corporate logo is put on a piece of art.

The issue of corporate investment in the arts recently came to the fore when poets John Kinsella and Alice Oswald withdrew their works from the shortlist for the T. S. Eliot Prize in protest at the award's sponsorship by investment firm Aurum Funds.

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