Scottish Ballet have become the latest cultural institution to distance itself from the fossil fuel industry with an announcement that it has cut its ties with BP. This follows a dance protest outside the Theatre Royal in Glasgow during COP26. It also coincides with the announcement that the National Portrait Gallery in London is ending its partnership with BP. But are these just the latest cards in a house of oil sponsorship that is gradually toppling?

Why has Scottish Ballet said it is cutting its ties?

The company announced that the partnership with the oil giant no longer “aligns with the company’s green action plan - to be carbon neutral by 2030”.

What was the COP26 protest that drew attention to the issue?

Activist group BP or not BP? staged a surprise musical protest outside Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. One of the performers was dressed in a BP-inspired tutu.

What was Scottish Ballet’s reaction?

The company were quick to respond, immediately tweeting a statement saying, “We recognise the importance of this. As part of our green action plan we are reviewing all our partnerships to ensure they’re fully aligned with our carbon neutral goal..”

But haven’t Scottish Ballet actually been a bit slow in disengaging from BP?

Other institutions that ditched oil sponsorship long before them include the Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Shakespeare Company, Southbank Centre, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and National Theatre.

And the National Portrait Gallery in London is rather slow too?

Yes, the gallery has dragged its heels. The announcement follows years of pressure from activists and artists, including Gary Hume, who spoke out whilst judge of the BP Portrait Award.

And what’s the reaction of activists to this latest news?

Zoe Lafferty, a member of BP or not BP? involved in the COP26 protest, said: ‘One by one cultural organisations are finally making the right ethical decisions... After this double victory, all eyes are now on the British Museum which must not renew its BP sponsorship deal.’

So the British Museum still has a BP deal?

Yes. It just opened its latest BP sponsored exhibition, The World of Stonehenge. Some are saying the show is "tarnished" by the associations. Not only that, but Channel 4 News recently reported campaigning group Culture Unstained's uncovering of how “leading figures from large corporations, including oil giant BP, are members of an influential but almost entirely unaccountable group advising the British Museum in secretive meetings”.

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