BP and the National Portrait Gallery have jointly confirmed that their partnership will not continue beyond 2022, when their current contract will end.
The partnership, which has seen BP support the gallery’s portrait award for more than 30 years, will end in December.
The BP Portrait Award is not to be held in 2021 and 2022 while the Gallery building in St Martin’s Place is closed for redevelopment. BP said it would honor the sponsorship contract and the remaining funds would support the gallery’s work.
BP said the move comes as the company reviews its partnerships and initiatives “to ensure the business is aligned with its new strategy.”
Louise Kingham CBE, Senior Vice President, Europe and Country Head, UK at BP, said the company “must look for new ways to best use our talents, experience and resources”.
Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said the gallery is “tremendously grateful to BP for their long-term support of the BP Portrait Award.
“The Gallery is committed to working with artists and continuing to promote portraiture and we look forward to developing the future Portrait Prize as we plan to reopen in 2023.”
In 2020, following protests against corporate sponsorship of the arts, over 70 artists signed a public letter urging the Gallery to remove the BP Representative spot from the BP Portrait Award jury.
A joint decision between BP and NPG later removed the judge’s post, but an NPG spokesperson at the time said The Guardian the decision was not influenced by “high-profile campaign work”.
In recent years, climate campaign work has followed a decline in BP sponsorship of many prominent cultural organizations.
BP ended its 26-year sponsorship of the Tate in 2016 citing business challenges, while campaign group Liberate Tate occupied and protested outside the museum over the partnership.
In 2019, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland announced that this would be the last time the galleries would host the exhibition “in its present form”.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) ended its sponsorship deal with BP in 2019, citing comments from young people that the sponsorship had created a “barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC”.
The British Museum and the Royal Opera House continue their partnership with BP.
Documents suggest British Museum renew BP sponsorship
Years of campaigning at the British Museum over its longstanding partnership with BP did not reveal last week that the director of the British Museum would seek to renew the museum’s sponsorship deal.
According to documents acquired and made public by campaign organization Culture Unstained, museum leaders have an “informal” meeting group of which BP is a part.