This short publication looks at how oil companies need and use sponsorship of the arts.

In order for an oil company to produce oil and transport it to the global market, it needs either the support or the silence of the population in those areas of the world in which this takes place. Where the necessary support – or ‘social licence to operate’ – is not forthcoming, the ability of that company to carry out its business becomes seriously impaired.

The building of this social licence takes place to some extent in the countries of the distant oilfields, but to a far greater degree in the cities of the global North, such as London, one of the companies’ key centres of operation. Here, Shell and BP have between them sponsored almost all of London’s most prestigious museums and cultural institutions over the course of the last decade.

Download the publication (pdf) or read online below.