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Climate activists plan Trojan Horse protest over British Museum’s BP sponsorship

Activists from the pressure group BP Or Not BP protest in the Great Court of the British Museum in London (John Stillwell/PA)
Activists from the pressure group BP Or Not BP protest in the Great Court of the British Museum in London (John Stillwell/PA)

An activist theatre group is planning to disrupt the opening of an exhibition about ancient Troy in protest at the British Museum’s sponsorship deal with oil giant BP.

BP Or Not BP are crowdfunding to build a replica of the Trojan Horse, from Greek legend, which they aim to wheel into the exhibition as part of the protest.

The group, which consists of theatre actors and directors, described the protest on November 23 as a “mass creative takeover” and “reimagining” of the British Museum.

BP Or Not BP during a previous protest inside the British Museum
BP Or Not BP during a previous protest inside the British Museum (Rick Findler/PA)

The announcement comes after the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) ended its partnership with BP after coming under pressure over its ties with the oil giant.

Gregory Doran, RSC artistic director and Catherine Mallyon, executive director, said: “Amidst the climate emergency, which we recognise, young people are now saying clearly to us that the BP sponsorship is putting a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC.

“We cannot ignore that message.”

And this summer, Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance, an associate artist with the RSC for 30 years, quit the theatre company over the issue.

Mark Rylance quits the RSC
Sir Mark Rylance quit the RSC in protest (Ian West/PA)

BP Or Not BP spokeswoman Sarah Horne said: “It’s deeply ironic that BP is sponsoring an exhibition called Troy: Myth And Reality, because this sponsorship deal is essentially a Trojan Horse for BP’s real activities.

“Just like in the myth, BP pretends that it’s giving us a gift, when in reality it’s trying to smuggle its deadly climate-wrecking business plans past the public’s defences.

“This issue has seen a huge rise in interest over the last few months, with artists and culture workers speaking out against oil branding, 73,000 people signing our petition against oil sponsorship and one of the British Museum’s own trustees resigning over the issue.

“The Royal Shakespeare Company’s decision to end its BP sponsorship has given yet more energy and momentum to this movement. We believe a lot of people will want to join us to take over the museum on November 23rd, making this the largest protest the museum has ever seen.”

“We’ve also launched a crowdfunder to build a Trojan Horse of our own, which we’ll bring to the museum to highlight the true nature of the BP sponsorship.”

Previous action by the group has included smuggling a Viking longship and a 40-foot sea monster into the British Museum, and erecting a 200-metre protest artwork.

Troy: Myth And Reality will feature finds from archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations at the site of Troy in the 1870s.

Crowdfunder link –

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/trojan-horse

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