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Arts organisations loyal to oil partnerships despite pressure from eco-campaigners

The National Theatre has split with oil company Shell. Credit: PA

A number of arts organisations will continue to receive support from oil giants, after the National Theatre split with Shell declaring fears of “catastrophic environmental collapse”.

The National Theatre’s decision follows the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) ending its relationship with BP after pressure from environmental campaigners.

Most of the organisations contacted by the PA news agency pointed towards the funding they receive from oil companies being of vital importance.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has ended its relationship with BP. Credit: PA

The National Portrait Gallery, who have an ongoing partnership with BP, said the debate “raises important questions about both the environment and arts funding”, but said it will be maintaining its relationship.

It said in a statement: “BP’s long-term support for the Portrait Award directly encourages the work of talented artists across the world.

“It also enables free admission to the exhibition, which has already attracted over 270,000 visitors in London this year, and we are grateful for this.”

The Royal Opera House said support from the oil giant directly provides free access to its art.

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. Credit: PA

Chief executive Alex Beard said: “More than one million people, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, have enjoyed world-class culture for free and for over 30 years families, students, friends and colleagues delight in their experience of a ‘night at the opera’ or ‘night at the ballet’ thanks to BP’s long-standing support and commitment to providing free access to the arts.”

The British Museum also said their relationship with BP would not be changing, and told PA: “Support from the corporate sector is essential for museums and arts organisations in times of reduced funding.

"This support means we can successfully plan exhibitions long-term and deliver public benefit for millions of people.”

The Southbank Centre, who have an ongoing sponsorship with Shell, emphasised their efforts to reduce emissions, but did say they regularly review how partnerships fit with their sustainability targets.

A spokesman said: “We review our corporate partnerships on a regular basis and take into consideration how they fit with the development of our wider environmental strategy and targets.

“Southbank Centre takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. We are committed to become a net zero carbon organisation by 2050 and have implemented a programme to achieve that.”