Ask your favourite gallery, museum, or theatre to join the Oil Sponsorship Free commitment! You can use and customise the text below as appropriate. We would love to hear the responses you get, whether positive or negative – get in touch at [email protected]
BP Or Not BP – Reclaim Shakespeare Company’s debut performance
Subject: Will you commit to culture beyond fossil fuels?
I am writing as a supporter of your work to ask if your organisation will join the Oil Sponsorship Free commitment, and join over 400 individual and organisational signatories including the Royal Court Theatre in London.
You may be aware of the mounting controversies over oil sponsorship of culture. After persistent pressure and dissent from artists and culture lovers, Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival recently ended their decades-long sponsorship deals with BP. Links between censorship and sponsorship have shocked the public: emails have shown that Shell tried to censor the content of climate change-related events and exhibitions at London’s Science Museum. Oil companies’ business models are widely understood to be incompatible with the limits on fossil fuel extraction that must be implemented to avoid catastrophic climate change. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. … We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry.”
Companies like BP and Shell sponsor art, museums and theatre in order to maintain what they call a “social licence to operate”, i.e. the consent of key audiences: diplomats, politicians, civil servants, journalists and other elites. Fossil fuel contributions to culture are insignificant (BP contributes just 0.5% to the British Museum´s annual budget) and are targeted at institutions with the highest prestige, who are the least likely to experience funding crises, even under government cuts.
So a growing number of artists, performers, and arts organisations internationally are making the commitment not to take direct funding from fossil fuel companies, to show that culture thrives without oil. They are refusing to allow their work to be used to justify and promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction.
As a long-time member of your audience, I would like to see you contribute to this movement for culture beyond oil. Will you make this commitment?
Please see oilsponsorshipfree.org for more information on the commitment and on how to sign up.
With best wishes,