MASS ACTION against the climate crisis and colonialism – let’s kick BP out of the British Museum!
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 8TH 2020, 1pm
Please fill in this form if you’d like to take part and we’ll send you more information on what to wear, bring and expect: https://forms.gle/WrDUvPEX9FSagjV86
The event will start at 1pm, but we’d advise arriving from noon as there may be long queues to enter the museum.
BP MUST FALL
We are in the middle of a climate emergency. The British Museum claims to agree – its Chair of Trustees recently called climate change “the great issue of our time”. Yet the museum continues to support and promote BP, one of the corporations most responsible for the crisis.
The Royal Shakespeare Company recently dropped BP as a sponsor. Now it’s time for the British Museum to do the same.
Over 1200 of you have now signed up for what is set to be our biggest ever protest against BP sponsorship, a mass creative action at the British Museum on 8th February. After 7 years and 39 actions at the museum, we can’t wait any longer: Indonesia is flooded, Australia is on fire and yet BP is investing in more oil and more gas. This sponsorship deal must end. BP Must Fall.
This name is inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, and we use it with their permission – see this note for more details.
The British Museum is holding a major new exhibition, sponsored by the oil giant BP.
The current BP-sponsored exhibition is called Troy: Myth and Reality. This is horribly appropriate: we’re sick of the oil industry using our arts and culture as a Trojan Horse to hide its deadly activities. BP’s sponsorship may look like a gift, but death and destruction are lurking inside. The oil giant wants to associate itself with this famous myth but in reality, just 75 miles from the site of ancient Troy, it recently completed an enormous gas pipeline in partnership with the repressive Turkish government, locking us into using more fossil fuels when we should be ditching them.
BP: the brand that launched a thousand protests
Arts sponsorship is BP’s Achilles heel. Last year, the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Galleries Scotland both ended their relationships with the oil giant, and Ahdaf Soueif resigned as a British Museum trustee in protest at the BP sponsorship deal. Polls show that most staff at the British Museum want its deal with BP to end, along with at least half of Londoners. If we can kick BP out of the museum, we’ll deal a significant blow to the oil giant, reducing its power and influence at this crucial moment in the climate struggle. So join us as we lay theatrical siege to the Troy Exhibition (in a thoughtful and responsible way).
Talking of sieges: THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our crowdfunder to bring a Trojan Horse to the British Museum as part of the action. We’ve hit the target and the horse will indeed be joining us 🙂
WHAT TO EXPECT
We will fill the museum with people, movement, song, costumes and other surprises, to highlight the problems with BP sponsorship and other injustices in the museum. When you arrive, you’ll be given instructions on how to take part. We are aiming to make this a fun and impactful day of creative action.
Please fill in this form if you’d like to take part and we’ll send you more information.
Feel free to use a disposable email address on this form if you don’t want to share your main one – just don’t forget to check it from time to time between now and February 8th!
We ask that everyone who wants to take action with us adheres to the following values. Our creative performance action will:
– put pressure on the Director, Chairman and Board of the British Museum, demanding that they show the climate leadership that staff, visitors and others are demanding;
– be respectful of Museum staff – many of whom support our campaign – and be responsible around exhibits at all times, taking care as we move around the museum;
– be as inclusive as possible, welcoming all regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, class and disability. We encourage participants to be aware of their own background or privilege, and to challenge oppressive behaviour where it occurs.
– be rooted in solidarity, with an awareness that the intensifying impacts of climate change and fossil fuel extraction disproportionately impact indigenous peoples, people of colour and marginalised communities around the world, who are the least responsible.
– be a bold and necessary escalation in our campaign, rooted in the principles of non-violence
We also encourage those attending to read our full Values Statement on our website here.
JOIN US ON FEBRUARY 8TH TO OCCUPY AND REIMAGINE THE BRITISH MUSEUM
The British Museum is also ignoring calls for the return of colonially looted artefacts from around the world. Many of the same communities that suffered under British colonialism are today on the frontlines of BP’s pollution, corruption and climate disaster. Justice for these communities means the return of stolen culture and a rapid transition to a cleaner energy future – a transition that BP actively opposes through its lobbying and oil extraction. It’s time for the British Museum to step up to its responsibilities, respond to the demands of affected communities, return looted artefacts and #DropBP.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON THE DAY?
You’ll get to join in with mass performance moments, hear voices from the frontlines of BP’s pollution and corruption, and team up with others in a variety of ways to expose the truth about BP’s activities, and put pressure on the British Museum to stop supporting the oil industry. There will also be some extra surprises we’ll reveal on the day 🙂 Please fill in this form if you want to come along, and we’ll send you what you need to know.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
The science is clear: to have a chance of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees, we cannot build any new fossil fuel infrastructure, and leave most of existing oil and gas reserves in the ground.
BP plans to spend £41 billion exploring for and exploiting new oil in the next ten years, putting in place wells and pipelines that would make the 1.5 degree target impossible to reach and tip us over into climate disaster. The company spends tens of millions each year on political lobbying, working to water down climate laws that might prevent its fossil fuel expansion plans. Despite a few widely advertised solar, wind and biofuel projects, BP plans to spend no more than 3% of its capital investments on renewable or low-carbon energy, with 97% still going into fossil fuels. It sponsors a number of arts institutions (the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Science Museum and Royal Opera House) in order to distract attention from all this, and to gain schmoozing opportunities with government officials at exhibition launch parties and events.
Our public arts institutions should not be boosting the power of the fossil fuel industry in the middle of a climate crisis.
This will be a family-friendly event and we aim to make it as accessible as possible for all, with multiple ways to take part – please let us know if you have any particular needs or questions, by sending us a message or filling in this form.
The front entrance to the museum on Great Russell Street has 12 steps with a handrail, with self-operable lifts on both sides of the steps. The back entrance on Montague Place has a level entrance, and then a lift to the Great Court level once you are inside.
The acoustics inside the museum can be difficult, so we are aiming to make the mass performance elements as visual as possible, including the directions on how to take part. There are accessible toilets in the Great Court.
Someone has kindly offered to do British Sign Language translation for the event, please let us know if you would benefit from this and we can make sure to direct you to where you can see the translation.
TROY TODAY: PIPELINES AND REPRESSION
BP has been working with the Turkish government to build the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) through Turkey. The pipeline was completed in July 2019.
The pipeline runs about 75 miles from the site of ancient Troy, and is part of a complex of pipelines called the Southern Gas Corridor, intended to bring fossil gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. The final part – the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) from Turkey via Greece and Albania to Italy – is still under construction, and has faced serious protests along its route.
When a previous BP pipeline (the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline) was built in this region from 2003 – 2005, there was an organised international campaign linked up with activists on the ground to oppose it. People in Turkey were especially concerned about militarisation and land grabs along the route of the pipeline where it came into North East Turkey.
However, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline has not experienced similar protest on its route through Turkey. This is very likely because of the anti-protest crackdowns of the repressive government of Turkish President Erdoğan, which has made people too scared to speak up this time. This means that BP is, once again, benefiting from a relationship with a repressive regime that is silencing protest and thus making it easier for BP to build its destructive and polluting projects.
The Southern Gas Corridor, if completed, could lock Europe into increased fossil gas use for decades to come.
BP Must Fall – help us to make it happen!
The BP-sponsored Troy exhibition: these people have no respect for Paris…