The Roundhouse in London is to continue to use the controversial Sackler family signage on the theatre patron’s wall even though they have refused to accept a promised £1m donation.
We have made a decision not to accept the donation at this time
The studio theatre was dedicated by the Sacklers in 2015 after the Roundhouse received a grant from the creators of OxyContin, a drug known to have killed at least 400,000 people in the United States.
The Roundhouse arts organisations have stopped all further relations with the Sackler family, turning down an additional £1m in 2018.
It said the donation could distract “from our work with young people”.
The Sackler Trust suspended charitable donations in the UK after institutions including the Tate and National Portrait Gallery also refused funding.
The directors of the organisation decided they could no longer be linked to the family because the drug company Purdue Pharma has been accused of aggressively marketing the prescription painkiller creating a generation of drug addicts.
A spokesman for the Camden theatre and gig venue said: “We are enormously grateful for the trust’s support over the years, but we have made a decision not to accept the donation at this time.
“To do so risks distracting from our work with young people, and that’s our priority.”
They stated that they do not “intend to remove the name on the Sackler Space at this time”. The Sackler Space hosts concerts which are a “hub for developing young emerging artists and their work”.
Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy protection in September and has thousands of legal cases in the US outstanding.
It’s been over 50 years since the Roundhouse was transformed from an old train shed to a performing arts centre. After ten years of transforming young lives through creativity, the organisation remains one of the most diverse and exciting venues in London.
The Sackler family have made an offer to settle litigation. In a statement, Purdue did not state an exact settlement amount but it’s thought to be in the region of $12 billion. They also promised to make Purdue Pharma a public trust. The protesters have stated, “Too little too late”.
Photographer Nan Goldin responded, “I think it’s completely unacceptable and so deeply cynical”. “To them, this is really good PR–it looks so benevolent and generous and it makes it look as though they’re paying their dues.”
“I’d rather that the Sackler family faced trial and that their personal wealth was clawed back” far more significantly, the artist says, adding, “They’ve ignited a public health emergency and they need to make restitution and they need to be held responsible.”
Nan Goldin will be speaking at the National Portrait Gallery on 17th November at the National Portrait Gallery