Museum Workers’ Union Condemns Oil Sponsorship of British Cultural Institutions

Big Oil’s sponsorship of British museums and galleries must come to an end, argues the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) Culture Sector.

Delegates to the PCS annual conference in Brighton yesterday voted overwhelmingly to support a new union campaign calling for an end to oil sponsorship of the arts.

The union represents 5,000 workers in UK cultural institutions that have accepted money from BP or Shell, including Tate, the British Museum and National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Clara Paillard, president of the PCS Culture Sector, said: “We have taken an important step in calling for museums to move away from dirty sponsorship by oil and arms trade corporations.  

We believe these sponsorship deals and privatisation are two sides of the same coin: a capitalist model for arts and culture which we reject. Access to culture is a human right, and we will defend it.”

Growing Campaign

Over the past three years the campaign to end oil sponsorship in the arts has grown rapidly. Pressure from campaign groups, such as BP or not BP? and Liberate Tate, has led to the Southbank Centre ending Shell’s sponsorship of its ‘Classic International’ series.

And, most recently, an information tribunal ruling last December forced Tate to publish the sum of money BP paid as a sponsor between 1990 and 2006, along with details of internal decision-making on the controversial relationship.

Danny Chivers, an ‘actorvist’ from BP or not BP? speaking at the PCS conference, said: “Fossil fuel companies belong in the past, and their sullied logos have no place inside forward-looking publicly-funded museums and galleries.

We are committed to working towards a thriving culture sector, where staff have fair pay and conditions and are free to work for the benefit of the public rather than being forced to meet the interests of polluting companies and profiteering privatisers.”

The beginning of next year will see Tate, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House decide whether or not to renew their five-year sponsorship deals with BP.


Photo: Brennan Cavanaugh via Flickr