Over 200 cultural figures reject oil sponsorship

  • Over 200 international artists, cultural workers, and institutions launch public commitment to go ‘fossil funds free’
  • First signatories include playwright Caryl Churchill, artist/composer Jem Finer, and comedian Francesca Martinez
  • A ‘Fossil Funds Free’ icon to appear on participants’ work

Contact: Anna Galkina on [email protected], @platformlondon

Current list of signatories: fossilfundsfree.org/who

Today a group of two hundred artists, performers, cultural workers and organisations worldwide are launching a commitment to reject fossil fuel sponsorship.[1] Participants from the US, UK, Canada, Norway, Brazil, Australia, France and Egypt are declaring that their work must not be used to promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction. Ahead of this year’s international climate talks in Paris, and following on from a global wave of divestment from fossil fuels worth $2.6 trillion by institutional investors,[2] the commitment represents a cultural sector response to the challenge to move beyond oil.

The text of the commitment reads:

“We do not take any oil, coal, or gas corporate sponsorship for our cultural work.
We call on our peers and institutional partners to refuse fossil fuel funding too.”

Signatories to the commitment include

  • Royal Court Theatre, Arcola Theatre, and Red Ladder Theatre (UK)
  • Playwrights Caryl Churchill and Nicky Allt (UK), writer and poet Aurora Levins Morales (US)
  • Musicians Susanne Sundfør (Norway), Michael Harvey (Australia)
  • Artists Jem Finer, Raoul Martinez (UK), Steve Lambert (US), and The Yes Men (US)


Artist Raoul Martinez, who has twice been nominated for the BP Portrait Award, said

‘Frankly I can’t believe oil sponsorship of the arts is still going on. As we’ve been hurtling towards climate catastrophe the fossil fuel industry has been working tirelessly to discredit the science, deceive the public, and slow down any meaningful political response. Lending the fossil fuel industry the cultural legitimacy that comes from sponsoring our museums, theatres and galleries provides them with cover for these crimes. Whenever we let these sponsorship deals go unchallenged we become, under the banner of creativity, complicit in the violent destruction of forests and families, people and planet.’

London’s Tate galleries, British Museum, Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery are currently deliberating over the renewal of a five-year sponsorship deal with BP. As Platform revealed earlier this year, BP’s sponsorship accounts for less than 0.5% of Tate’s budget. BP also sponsors the Royal Shakespeare Company, while Shell sponsors the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, and the Science Museum.[3] Recently revealed emails show Shell’s direct influence over Science Museum displays and events, for example requesting for a particular event to be made ‘invite-only’ to ensure “we do not proactively open up a debate on the topic [of Shell’s operations]” .[4]

The Fossil Funds Free signatories commit to rejecting direct oil, gas, or coal funding for their work, and to questioning the fossil fuel sponsorship deals of partners and institutions they work with. The commitment is coordinated by Platform with support from Art Not Oil Coalition (UK), Not An Alternative (US), The Natural History Museum (US), BP Or Not BP? (UK), and Stopp oljesponsing av norsk kulturliv (Norway).

Platform’s Anna Galkina said,

“The prestigious oil-sponsored museums and theatres of London, Moscow and New York continue promoting climate-wrecking fossil fuel extraction. Their important work is being used to silence the voices of people whose rights, health, and subsistence are endangered by oil drilling and climate crisis. The Fossil Funds Free icon signifies art and culture around the world that is breaking free from oil – and working for a survivable and just future. This is only the beginning – we invite all culture lovers to get in touch with their favourite gallery, theatre, art space or museum and ask them to join the commitment!”

Judith Knight, director of ArtsAdmin (UK), said

“Artsadmin is committed to the Fossil Free campaign and ethical fundraising activity, in the belief that the positive force of the arts is undermined by the damage to the planet from fossil fuels.  We would urge all arts organisations to join this movement and stop giving credibility to companies whose operations threaten our planet’s future”


For more information contact Anna Galkina on [email protected], @platformlondon

Current full list of signatories: fossilfundsfree.org/who

[1] fossilfundsfree.org

[2] http://newsroom.unfccc.int/financial-flows/fossil-fuel-divestment-pledges-surpass-26-trillion/

[3] See Platform’s infographic for a full listing of oil sponsorship of culture http://platformlondon.org/p-publications/artoilinfographic/

For full information on Tate’s disclosure on BP sponsorship, see http://platformlondon.org/p-pressreleases/tate-forced-to-reveal-bp-sponsorship-details/

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/31/shell-sought-influence-direction-science-museum-climate-programme