2 BP executives
[Scene : 4 artists arranged in a line/horseshoe, painting pictures on the floor / propped up / human easels / some way the audience can see them. Two BP executives enter stage right. The execs are very sure of themselves have big fake smiles, booming voices, a lot of hand clasping etc.]
Exec 1 : Gather round! Gather round! Do have a look at these beautiful paintings! Welcome to our new Artwash wing! Welcome all.
Exec 2 : We’re here today from BP, to show you a selection of beautiful portraits we have sponsored, to enhance our reputation and boost our social responsibility, OK?
Exec 1 : [in stage whisper] and to cover up all our corporate crimes of course! Exec 1 & Exec 2 : [Laugh heartily]
Exec 2 : [To Artist 1] Now, what have we here? Would you like to show us what you are painting?
Artist 1 : [Turns around picture to show Deepwater Horizon exploding] This is a painting of Deepwater Horizon, BP’s offshore oil rig, exploding. The explosion killed 11 BP workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the largest environmental disaster in US history.
Exec 2 : [false smile wavers a little, but still fake-ly polite, patronising] Goodness me! Why have you painted that? Now, that’s not the sort of picture we want to be painting of ourselves, is it?
Exec 1 : I know what we’ll do, how about you paint over those flames with some blue [gives the artist blue cut-out to stick on]. There we go…and how about some dolphins leaping up over there? [she sticks the dolphins on]
Exec 2 : Yes, that’s much better. Because we are a safe and responsible company aren’t
Artist 1 : [Looks pissed off but doesn’t say anything]
Exec 1 : Yes, indeed we are! Well, what else have you painted for us? Surely this one will be more positive…
Artist 2 : [Turns around picture to show a bird covered in oil] This is a pelican, one of the many birds smothered by oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The spill completely wrecked the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico; turtles died, the dolphins miscarried their calves…oh and the fish stocks were decimated! Thousands of people lost their livelihoods-
Exec 1 : [Snaps, nasty] That’s enough!….[Exec 1 takes her arm. She rearranges features into a smile]…of that. That’s a wee bit negative don’t you think? I don’t think the people of Scotland want to be upset by the paintings do they? No.
Exec 2 : I know what you can do! Why not paint some nice white wings so the bird can fly away? Because we did clean up the spill, didn’t we Exec 1?
Artist 2 : But the clean-up workers are getting sick, and suing BP-
Exec 2 : Just paint the wings! Now, next painting. What have you got for us?
Artist 3 : [Defiantly] These are the Albertan Tar sands, that BP has invested 1.6 billion dollars in. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest fuel on the planet, ripping away the forest, polluting the water, and producing these huge waste ponds you can see from space. Indigenous people are angry because they’re sacred land is being polluted-
Exec 2 : What are you talking about?! Didn’t we tell you we’re a sustainable company? Now, let’s cover all this up – paint some trees in there… [Artists 3 does not, Exec 2 starts sticking the trees on it]
Artist 3 : What are you doing?
Exec 1 : Here Exec 2, let’s stick these *flowers* over it [starts sticking the BP logo all over the painting]. That’s much better!
[Exec 1 and Exec 2 dust off hands and start to walk off]
Exec 2 : [Over her shoulder] And put a nice green wash on it too!
Exec 1 : Aha! Here’s a portrait! Much better than all this tree-hugging stuff. Who have you painted?
Artist 3 : This is a Portrait of Gilberto Torres, who worked on the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia, which transported oil for BP. In 2002, Gilberto was abducted and tortured by
paramilitaries who were paid to provide ‘security’ for the pipeline by the Colombian Government and Ocensa. He made it out alive, but thousands of others did not, including his friend and fellow union activist Auri Sara Marrugo. BP was part of the multinational oil consortium OCENSA SA, which paid 46,000 dollars on Gilberto’s kidnap, torture, and attempted murder and disappearance. Gilberto is now taking BP to court for its role in these human rights abuses.
Exec 1 : I’ve never heard of him in my life! This has nothing to do with BP!
Artist : This was exposed in the national press, and Gilberto recently came to Edinburgh to tell his story and protest against BP funding –
Exec 2 : [smiley] Next time, paint something with some happy people, won’t you? [slaps the BP logo over the face on the portrait. They move away, artist peels off the logo, puts it on the floor and stamps on it].
Exec 1 : Now, our final artist. I’m sure you’ve painted something nice haven’t you?
Artist 4 : [turns around painting. It is a refugee camp in the desert]. This is a painting of a refugee camp in Kenya. Since 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to this camp from their homes in East Africa, due to draught in some places and flooding in others. I wanted to show what will happen more and more in the future if BP keeps extracting and burning oil. If we carry on at this rate, we’re going to warm the Earth way beyond two degrees, but BP keeps exploring for new-
Exec 1 : No, no, no, no, NO! This isn’t what we want the public to hear! Exec 2 : The whole reason we’re funding the arts is to improve our image! Artist 4 : But this is the truth!
Exec 1 : We can’t possibly show this, I’ll have to take it away [she snatches the painting from the artist] –
Artist 4 : My art! [Artist 4 and Exec 1 start having a tug of war with the painting]
Exec 2 : [To audience] I’m terribly sorry, we seem to have got the wrong exhibition! This wasn’t funded by BP at all, because we’re caring, responsible and environmentally sustainable [digs her elbow in Exec 1’s rib, Exec 1 comes to her senses and starts recovering her cool]. Now, why don’t you come with me and Exec 1, and we’ll go and have a look at those Portrait Awards we sponsored upstairs-
[Whilst Exec 2 has been speaking, the Artists have gathered around. Execs 1 and 2 turn around and realise their way is barred. The Narrator steps in]
Narrator : Not so fast BP! Do you think you can get away that easily?
You have decimated the Gulf of Mexico, causing illness and death, destroying the
ecosystem and people’s lives! You have been charged with a 20 billion dollar fine, making you the world’s largest corporate criminal!
You’re trampling over the rights of indigenous people, and propping up regimes that have committed terrible human rights abuses! There are frontline communities all around the world, from Azerbaijan to Australia, who do not want you on their land!
And you’re polluting the entire planet by continuing to explore and exploit ever-dirtier fossil fuels!
Do you think you can cover all that up by sponsoring the Portrait Awards? [Artists cross their arms and shake their heads]
[to the audience] Do you think BP should sponsor the Portrait Awards? Ensemble : [in the Audience] NO!
Narrator : You try to cover up your dirty dealings with a pretty sunburst logo, plastering it all over our museums and galleries, using their good reputations to curry favour! But really you are oil-stained, tar-smeared rogues! [Points to the portrait of logo artist has brought out] [To audience] Do you think the Scottish National Portrait Gallery should allow BP’s logo within its halls?
Ensemble : [in the Audience] NO!
Narrator : [to the Audience] It’s up to you – if you think BP does not have a place in the Arts in Scotland, then tell the National Portrait Gallery! Fill in a feedback form, or sign our petition.
We love the arts!
Ensemble : We love the arts! Narrator : We love the environment! Ensemble : We love the environment! Narrator : We are going to remove Ensemble : We are going to remove Narrator : BP from this Gallery! Ensemble : BP from this Gallery!
Narrator : [points to execs] Leave now BP! Ensemble : Leave now BP!
[The four artists take the arms of Exec 1 and Exec 2] Ensemble cheer
Exec 1 and Exec 2 struggling, sounding desperate: “But we need the positive publicity”… “You’re ruining our image”…. “But this might impact on our massive profits!”
Artist 1/2/3/4 : Come on, there’s loads of renewable energy you can invest in!
[Narrator leads the way, followed by artists and BP execs, followed by ensemble, parading 2 by 2. Don’t rush – wait until you’re sure the cameras have got you! All sing, except Exec 2 and Exec 1]
[After first four lines of song, execs, artists can drop character. Throw off hats/badges. All sing.]
Caused the spill from BP Gross deception…
Time to set the Gallery free! BP, BP, BP Must go…
BP, BP, BP Must go…
It started with an oil spill, off the Gulf Coast, from a rig of BP’s [repeat]
Gallery why you hiding, why you hiding, why you hiding BP? [repeat]
The whole gulf coast is dying And BP keeps on lying
And we will not be silent!
I said no, no, no
They’ve got to go, go, go