Arts and cultural professionals and organisations refusing to promote fossil fuel companies’ climate-wrecking business models
With the new US government headed by a racist climate change denier, with BP and Shell raking in billions in North Sea subsidies from the UK government, and with movements from North Dakota to the Niger Delta fighting to keep the oil in the ground, it’s time for a cultural shift away from fossil fuels.
Disastrous climate change has already affected the lives of millions of people. The world has to keep 80% of already existing fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the warming becoming a global catastrophe. Communities living on the frontiers of oil drilling from Ogoniland to Alberta face the destruction of livelihoods by oil’s hazards and climate change. But instead of halting extraction, we are letting fossil fuel companies break into more and more dangerous frontiers (Arctic oil, tar sands, shale gas). How come? One of the things that lets this happen is called ‘social licence to operate’ in PR industry language: the support of powerful politicians, media, financiers and elites. Fossil fuel companies purchase ‘social licence’ by sponsoring high-profile shows and cultural projects. In the process, they subtly influence the cultural content, access influential supporters, and get their brand associated with cultural goods rather than their ecological destruction, human rights abuse, and climate crisis. The voices of respected artists and cultural institutions are used to drown out the voices of those whose rights, health, family and subsistence are endangered by oil drilling. Sponsorship links cement elite relationships that give fossil fuel corporations their power (see e.g. John Browne, Chair of Tate’s board, but also BP CEO of a decade and since then Chair of Cuadrilla and L1 Energy). Artists and cultural organisations are encouraged to think of themselves as entrepreneurs: to sell cultural products (including the cultural status of art) to the highest bidder. As artists, performers, and cultural sector organisations, we refuse our work to be used to justify and promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction at the cost of human lives and communities. By creating an oil-free cultural sector we are enabling the transition to a liveable future without fossil fuels.
What you can do:
1. Talk. Encourage colleagues, collaborators, and friends to join Fossil Funds Free. Here are a couple of pages to get the conversation started. Are you part of a network or professional association that could host a conversation about fossil free culture?
2. Challenge collaborators. Do you work with other organisations or artists who do take fossil fuel sponsorship? Have you raised the issue with them? How did they respond? We’d like to offer support for these conversations and share lessons, so let us know how it’s gone for you.
3. Make artwork. We’re also looking for collaborators to make artwork to promote the Fossil Funds Free commitment. Would you like to work on a poster, a video, a written piece for our blog or a magazine, or graphic artwork with us? Get in touch!
**4. Give us feedback. **Have you got ideas for how to improve the commitment - its webpages, its branding, its reach? Ideas for events? Or people to bring onboard?
But most of all, use FFF any way it works for you! The logo is here for you to use on programmes or websites. Our new postcards are here for you to send or stock. And let us know how else we can help you.