Over 200 artists and arts organisations pledged not to accept sponsorship money from oil companies. The signatories include fourth plinth artist Hans Haacke, Jem Finer, Raoul Martinez (UK), Steve Lambert (US), and The Yes Men (US) A ‘Fossil Funds Free’ icon will now appear on participants work.
The ”fossil funds free” pledge is part of a campaign that has been targeted at Tate, the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery –recipients of a five-year sponsorship deal with BP worth £10m, which is due to end in 2017. artists, performers, cultural workers and organisations worldwide are launching a commitment to reject fossil fuel sponsorship. Participants from the US, UK, Canada, Norway, Brazil, Australia, France and Egypt are declaring that their work must not be used to promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction. Ahead of this year’s international climate talks in Paris, and following on from a global wave of divestment from fossil fuels worth $2.6 trillion by institutional investors,] the commitment represents a cultural sector response to the challenge to move beyond oil.
London galleries are currently deliberating over the renewal of a five-year sponsorship deal with BP. As Platform revealed earlier this year, BP’s sponsorship accounts for less than 0.5% of Tate’s budget. BP also sponsors the Royal Shakespeare Company, while Shell sponsors the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, and the Science Museum. Recently revealed emails show Shell’s direct influence over Science Museum displays and events, for example requesting for a particular event to be made ‘invite-only’ to ensure “we do not proactively open up a debate on the topic [of Shell’s operations]”. The Fossil Funds Free signatories commit to rejecting direct oil, gas, or coal funding for their work, and to questioning the fossil fuel sponsorship deals of partners and institutions they work with. The commitment is coordinated by Platform with support from Art Not Oil Coalition (UK), Not An Alternative (US), The Natural History Museum (US), BP Or Not BP? (UK), and Stopp oljesponsing av norsk kulturliv (Norway).
Platform’s Anna Galkina said,“The prestigious oil-sponsored museums and theatres of London, Moscow and New York continue promoting climate-wrecking fossil fuel extraction. Their important work is being used to silence the voices of people whose rights, health, and subsistence are endangered by oil drilling and climate crisis. The Fossil Funds Free icon signifies art and culture around the world that is breaking free from oil – and working for a survivable and just future. This is only the beginning – we invite all culture lovers to get in touch with their favourite gallery, theatre, art space or museum and ask them to join the commitment!”
Judith Knight, director of ArtsAdmin (UK), said “Artsadmin is committed to the Fossil Free campaign and ethical fundraising activity, in the belief that the positive force of the arts is undermined by the damage to the planet from fossil fuels. We would urge all arts organisations to join this movement and stop giving credibility to companies whose operations threaten our planet’s future”
Campaigners state that deals lend the oil company a cultural legitimacy, and that the arts organisations should look to find the money elsewhere.
Video Still: ‘Fifth Assessment’ by Liberate Tate, Tate Britain. Martin LeSanto-Smith