By Mat Hope • Tuesday, May 23, 2017 – 00:00
Fossil fuel company Shell receives special treatment from the publicly-funded National Gallery despite the oil major’s history of climate obstructionism, documents seen by DeSmog UK show.
The news comes as shareholders gather for Shell’s annual general meeting in The Hague today, with the board under pressure to agree to company-wide emissions reduction targets.
Campaigners have long complained about Shell’s relationship with some of the UK’s most high-profile cultural organisations, arguing that the company should not be allowed to launder its reputation through its association with respected national institutions until it makes a firm commitment to tackle climate change.
But email correspondence seen by DeSmog UK shows just how cosy Shell’s relationship with the National Gallery has been. The documents reveal:
- Shell received special invites to National Gallery events, including one attended by Prince Charles
- Shell and the National Gallery coordinated press releases and responses to Freedom of Information requests
- Shell asked the National Gallery to bend the rules to get additional tickets to exhibitions
- The National Gallery offered private tours as it approached Shell to sponsor a new display
- The National Gallery made special efforts to accommodate Shell’s requests for after-hours tours and events
Shell is a corporate member of the National Gallery. It pays around £20,000 to £30,000 a year for this, the documents suggest.
The emails, obtained through Freedom of Information requests by campaign group Culture Unstained and published by DeSmog UK, show National Gallery staff willing to do all they can to ensure its corporate sponsor gets the most out of its membership.
In March, the National Gallery invited Shell representatives to an event attended by the gallery’s patron, Prince Charles.
Shell employees and a range of guests also organised a number of private tours, held after the Gallery had been closed to the public.
In one instance, the Gallery tried to find a way to accommodate Shell’s request, even though it would “normally say no”, as Shell is “a corporate sponsor”.