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BP chief executive brands arts sponsorship protests ‘curious’ and ‘odd’

BP’s chief executive has spoken out against the criticism that surrounds the oil and gas company’s sponsorship of arts organisations, claiming he receives “overwhelming feedback” in support of it.

Bob Dudley said he found recent protests against BP’s arts sponsorship “very curious” and the “oddest approach”.

Climate action groups have recently stepped up demonstrations against fossil fuel companies providing money to British arts organisations, with most of the opposition focused on four institutions – the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery – which are part of a major joint deal with BP.

According to the Guardian [1], Dudley, speaking at a Chatham House event, said UK protests against BP sponsorship “just feels odd” because he claimed to receive feedback supporting its arts philanthropy.

“The rest of the world finds this the oddest approach,” he said.

Responding to Dudley’s comments on Twitter, campaign group Culture Unstained, said: “Given the high-profile and widespread opposition to BP’s sponsorship across the cultural sector in recent weeks, his comments tonight… seem out of touch with reality.”

Recent protests have included those against the Royal Opera House’s free open-air screenings [10], which are sponsored by BP and have been subject to several demonstrations this summer.

Last month, Mark Rylance resigned as an associate artist of the RSC after a 30-year relationship, saying: “I feel I must resign as I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, a tobacco salesman or anyone who wilfully destroys the lives of others alive or unborn. Nor, I believe, would William Shakespeare.”

Mark Rylance resigns as RSC associate artist over BP sponsorship [11]