Council chiefs have decided to press on with plans to host an art show in Aberdeen funded by oil firm BP, despite the National Galleries of Scotland pulling out of the event.
Aberdeen City Council, which received £1 million from the oil giant to fund new exhibition spaces in the revamped Aberdeen Art Gallery, has confirmed it will host the BP Portrait Award exhibition as planned between October 2020 and January 2021.
Its renewed commitment comes after the National Galleries of Scotland decided to sever funding ties with BP over the climate emergency, claiming links to the fossil fuel company were “at odds” with their commitment to tackle climate change.
A statement from the public body, which oversees the Scottish National Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art and Portrait Gallery, said: “We recognise that we have a responsibility to do all we can to address the climate emergency.
“For many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds with that aim.
“Therefore, after due consideration, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have decided this will be the last time the galleries will host this exhibition in its present form.”
But a spokesman for the city council said: “As an organisation, the council’s environmental responsibilities are of paramount importance and we are committed to continuing to play a leading role in addressing climate change.
“We have statutory responsibilities in that respect, but our commitment goes far beyond that.
“Aberdeen is also proud of its role as an international energy hub and the council values the relationships it has built over many years with the sector, recognising the contribution oil and gas has made to the economy not only regionally, but nationally.
“Our partnership with BP, a major supporter of art and culture in the UK, has contributed to the landmark redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery.”
A spokesman for BP said: “The increasing polarisation of debate and attempts to exclude companies committed to being a part of the energy transition is exactly what is not needed. This global challenge needs everyone.”