Dec 19, 2011 at 03:27 PM
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BP To Pour $15.5 Million Into Controversial Museum Partnerships

While one controversial partnership in London may have moved a step closer to resolution, another controversial sponsorship just got a fresh new commitment. To the tune of $15.5 million. BP, which has been the subject of massive museum protests since its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has renewed commitments to the Royal Opera House, Tate Britain, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. As recent as last week, the Guardian had reported that museum trustees were seriously considering whether they should seek renewal of the partnership.

As a result of the new agreements, BP will invest almost £10 million in the four partnerships over the next five years. In renewing the controversial partnerships, BP pointed to the accomplishments achieved by its recent support of the four cultural institutions:

- Over 30 million people have visited Tate Britain and enjoyed the refreshed BP British Art Displays.

- Over 1.2 million people have attended a BP special exhibition at the British Museum.

- Over 3 million people have visited the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery which, in total, has attracted around 30,000 entries to the competition from more than 80 countries.

- With the Royal Opera House, the BP Summer Big Screens programme has extended from one initial location in London in 2000 to 21 locations across the UK in 2011

“I believe that everywhere we operate we should seek to contribute to the wider community and not only through our business activities," Iain Conn, BP managing director. "It is important to us that we make a meaningful contribution to society here in the UK. Our work with these partner institutions is a major part of this - enabling people around the country and the world to connect through the experience of outstanding exhibitions and performances, promoting ideas and encouraging creativity.”

The renewed partnerships are sure to fan the flames of protesters, which have vehemently opposed the sponsorships over the past two years. Here's just one example from a protest at the Tate last July: