Thespian activist collecitve Reclaim Shakespeare Company are claiming victory as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s short-lived association with BP comes to an end. In a statement issued to The Independent the RSC said: “We have no further sponsorship [with BP] confirmed ” The activists claim that the RSC’s programme for 2013 has been announced and that none of the productions appears to be sponsored by BP.
Yesterday four playlets were performed inside the Great Court of the British Museum in protest at BP’s sponsorship of the Shakespeare exhibition the space currently houses. Alongside the principal performers, the Reclaim Shakespeare Company estimate another 200 “actor-vists” participated in a chorus of:
Double double, oil is trouble
Tar sands burn while greenwash bubbles
Double double, oil is trouble
Let’s reduce BP to rubble.
On 15 November BP admitted it was guilty of 14 criminal charges in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and accepted fines totaling $4.5 billion – the biggest combined fine in US history. The charges include lying to Congress. The increased police and security presence at yesterday’s event would appear to suggest that BP’s public relations largesse comes increasingly not just with a reputation and credibility cost to the recipient but with a financial one too.
Performer Richard Howlett said:
“As the reality of climate change becomes ever clearer, the case for ending oil sponsorship of the arts is gathering momentum. The RSC seem to have seen sense, and decided to no longer act as a figleaf to hide BP’s destructive activities. The British Museum, Tate, National Portrait Gallery and others must now do the right thing and follow suit.”
Climate action in London continues tomorrow as activists gather to shut down a conference hosted by the Canadian Embassy in partnership with Shell and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office aimed at increasing investment in the Canadian tar sands. Shell is the subject of a legal action brought by the Athatbascan Chipewyan First Nation over the threat posed by the company’s tar sands developments to their traditional ways of life. The UK and Canadian governments have been effectively colluding to delay European legislation which would effectively prohibit importation of tar sands oil into the EU due to it’s relatively high carbon footprint. Professor James Hansen has said that “exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts.”
Greenpeace undercover sting breaking today reveals plot within UK Conservative Party to undermine the Climate Change Act. Peter Lilley is caught on camera saying: “Basically I think [George] Osborne wanted to get people into key positions who could begin to get government off the hook of the commitments it made very foolishly. We could well see, certainly amendments to the Climate Change Act, cease to make it legally-binding, make it advisory.” Put together with the recent promotion of sceptics and anti-environment Tories into key positions and the capture of government by the gas mafia, this has all the makings of one big shit-storm. It also explains how the government intended to square the building of 20 new gas-fired power stations with its legally-binding commitments on the Climate Change Act. It didn’t…
Naomi Klein interviewed while spending time with Occupy Sandy, helping victims hit by the hurricane in New York and New Jersey, and explaining the rationale behind 350.org’s Do the Math tour – coming to a city in the US near you over the next few weeks (7 November-3 December).
We know how much carbon can be released into the atmosphere and still have a hope in hell of staying below 2 degrees – which by the way is too warm. What we’re experiencing here is less than 1 degrees warming. So imagine what two degrees warming would look like. But governments agree on how much carbon can be released into the atmosphere and have a chance – not a guarantee but a chance – of staying below two degrees. And what we know is that fossil fuel companies already have in reserve five times as much carbon. Meaning they’re planning their business models to destroy the planet . They’ve declared war on us. We need to fight back. Direct action is a part of that but we can’t fight this one pipeline at a time, we need to go after their business model.
Part of the campaign to end fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts, Tate à Tate is a series of three alternative audio tours commissioned from artists (including a collaboration between Climate Radio’s Phil England and radio artist Jim Welton) which explore this issue of BP’s controversial sponsorship of the Tate galleries. They are designed to be listened to in the galleries themselves, but if you are unable to visit in person, you can still listen to the works online.
Tate will not accept funds in circumstances when [...] The donor has acted, or is believed to have acted, illegally in the acquisition of funds, for example when funds are tainted through being the proceeds of criminal conduct.
Workshops around these alternative audio tours are available to groups of students, activists, artists or academics, and if you are moved to do more, here are some suggestions for other things you can do to help to make fossil fuel sponsorship of arts and culture socially unacceptable.
Update: The final two occupiers came down on Monday 5th November after stopping the operation of the power station for a full seven days. Sign and share this petition against the UK’s dash-for-gas; come to this public meeting in London on 19 November; see the protestors’ solutions; and follow the group on Twitter or Facebook to find out about upcoming actions you can get involved in.
Art collective raises questions over John Browne’s conflict of interest as ex BP CEO
Press release: 15 October 2012
Tate Trustees have decided not to accept ‘The Gift’, a 16.5m wind turbine blade, as part of its permanent art collection.
‘The Gift’ was installed in Tate Turbine Hall in an unofficial performance on 7 July, involving over 100 members of Liberate Tate, the group that has made headlines for dramatic artworks relating to the relationship of public cultural institutions with oil companies.
The artists submitted official documentation for the artwork to be a gift to the nation ‘given for the benefit of the public’ under the provisions of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992, the Act from which Tate’s mission is drawn.
The refusal of the offer comes despite the fact that more than a thousand people signed a petition started by a Tate member calling on Nicholas Serota and the Tate board to accept the artwork and return the blade to the Turbine Hall for public viewing.
Informing Liberate Tate of its decision, Tate stated the reason being that: “in line with the current strategy, commitments and priorities for the Collection and the size of the object in relation to existing pressures on collection care – the offer of The Gift is declined.”
Giving Liberate Tate 7 working days’ notice, Tate also said that if the art collective did not respond by 16 October, it would “recycle” the artwork.
Today, 15 October, Liberate Tate has responded asking Nicholas Serota questions including:
Whether Tate chair Lord Browne (and ex BP CEO) chaired the agenda item when Tate Trustees considered The Gift.
Whether Tate Trustees considered The Gift within the context of the Tate Sustainability Strategy it has agreed.
Whether Tate Trustees have also agreed a Size Strategy.
Whether Tate Trustees considered The Gift as art.
The decision comes at a time when controversial art sponsors have again been in the news. Last week the National Gallery announced that its sponsorship agreement with arms dealer Finmeccanica was ending a year early following on from protests and public pressure.
Sharon Palmer from Liberate Tate said:
“We are not disappointed for us as artists – our future work will continue to be seen at Tate as long as BP is supported by Tate, although we would welcome an early end to our practice – but we are disappointed for what this decision says about the present nature of the institution that is Tate.”
“Recent studies have shown that BP sponsorship of the Olympics managed to improve the public perception of the company, despite the fact that they are continuing to devastate the climate and are pushing ahead with devastating tar sands extraction and arctic drilling. Tate’s relationship with BP is fulfilling the same function in actively helping the oil giant to avoid accountability for countless destructive activities. The Gift is an artwork that celebrates the possibility of real change – for Tate as much for everyone else facing the challenges of the climate crisis.”
The Gift is Liberate Tate’s fourth artwork in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall.