Protests Outside National Portrait Gallery For BP Portrait Award

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 83 months ago
Protests Outside National Portrait Gallery For BP Portrait Award

Climate activists protested outside the National Portrait Gallery last night, saying the BP Portrait Award allows the oil giant to divert attention away from its environmental record.

This time last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil well was pumping tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day. The campaign group Facing the Gulf submitted 14 portraits of people from the area to the contest (none were selected) in an attempt to get the NPG to reconsider its financial links with BP.

The thing is, can the arts really manage without getting into bed with corporate sponsors? Arts Council funding has been reduced by nearly 15%, leaving organisations with little choice but to seek philanthropy or to start 'fostering partnerships', as business-report-speak has it. In an ideal world, arts programmes wouldn't consider companies with dodgy human rights or environmental records; but how many ethical companies have the sort of cash to fund a £25,000 prize, which is what the BP Portrait Award carries?

Photo by The Polstar from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 15 June 2011


I wonder how many of the protesters are willing to dig deep into their own pockets to make up the shortfall if the sponsor did withdraw their finances?


Probably none. BP isn't in the business of polluting the
environment, accidents can and do happen in all industries.

Liberate Tate

The arts can manage without promoting Big Oil companies. Lots of arts institutions function without taking oil money. Cuts in public funding do not justify maintaining relationships with very disreputable corporate entities with such bad human rights and environmental impacts like BP. As taxpayers we should push our elected to fund cultural institutions properly, even in economic hard times - otherwise corporates with PR needs like BP come in and create conflicts between the public good and a sponsor’s agenda. With BP and institutions like the Tate and the National Portait Gallery a growing number of artists, activists and art lovers are saying this taking of dirty money for image cleaning must end - there are alternatives. Free Art Fom Oil - get involved!