BP's announcement of another 5-year deal with four major arts institutions in the UK (British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company), despite all the recent opposition and criticism, has provoked a huge outcry, particularly from people involved in the culture sector and those who do climate-related work.
As a response to the announcement, the Art Not Oil Coalition drafted an open letter* signed by artists, cultural professionals, scientists and academics and picked up by major newspaper: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/actors-accuse-bp-of-exploiting-the-arts-0j2dj7b5t
Julie was happy to co-sign the letter and support of the coalition’s campaign, as part of her active involvement on the topic of Arts and Climate Change, using her political platform to raise awareness of the links between Arts and Science in general, and more particularly of the Arts community’s key contribution to tackle climate change, and to create synergies and bridges between and stakeholders from both ‘worlds’, in particular between artists, scientists and activists.
This action also relates to Julie’s her long-term partnership with Platform London and to her participation, together with Natalie Bennett, to the Deadline Festival: an unauthorised arts festival organised inside Tate Modern, to promote the conversation towards a culture beyond oil as talks to come off fossil fuels were taking place in Paris at the Climate Summit.
‘Arts and Climate Change’ at the European Parliament
As part of her effort to promote the role that the Arts community can play in tackling climate change, Julie hosted an event on the issue at the European Parliament last November, entitled " Arts, Environment and Society: How can artists contribute to the fight against climate change?".
Organised to build a momentum among MEPs ahead of the COP21 in Paris, the event gathered artists, cultural workers and scientists working on projects linking Arts & Culture and Climate change.
Among speakers presenting their projects and exchanging their views were:
David Buckland, Cape Farewell (UK) and Jacqueline Heerema, Satellietgroep (NL) on how to build synergies between Arts and Science to foster creativity for innovation;
Alice Audouin, Art of Change 21 (FR) and Anna Galkina, Platform London (UK) on Arts, citizen mobilisation and activism, or how to change the cultural narrative around climate change;
And Alison Tickell, from Julie's Bicycle (UK), who gave a great best practice presentation on how her organisation provides support for artists for them to be actors of change. arts_and_climate_change.png
The event started with a creative and artistic intervention animated by artist Seaming To and Debra King, manager of Brighter Sound (Manchester).
The event was conceived as a start of a conversation that Julie will keep alive in her work as a member of the Culture committee in the Parliament.
Read the letter from the Art not Oil coalition below:
Another five years of BP-branded culture
BP’s announcement of five-year sponsorship deals with the British Museum, Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Shakespeare Company is outdated and unacceptable.
We cannot afford another five years of BP-branded culture. As artists, scientists, academics and cultural workers, we believe museums, theatres and galleries are public institutions that must play a positive role in taking urgent climate action and defending human rights. If the world is to avoid runaway climate change in the coming decades, most of the oil on BP’s books cannot be burned. Meanwhile, the company’s operations continue harming lives every day, despite community resistance from the Gulf Coast to West Papua to Australia.
We know now that BP sponsorship comes with strings attached. A recent report revealed how BP leant on the British Museum to hold events timed with BP’s bid for drilling licenses in Mexico, and how the museum checked in with BP on curatorial decisions.
Branding a major museum or theatre has become cheaper for BP (just £375,000 a year for each institution). This is less than the cost of a short billboard campaign. Recent surveys show that a majority of Londoners, and the British Museum’s own staff, are against BP sponsorship. These institutions’ decisions are badly out of step with the mood of their own staff and audiences. BP is not welcome to use our culture to promote its destructive business - these deals must be cancelled.
Visit the website of the campaign: Art Not Oil Coalition
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