Ending oil industry sponsorship of the arts
BP is sponsoring the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the UK. Do you have a creative response to this situation that we might be able to add to our Cultural or Vultural 2012? gallery? If so, please contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07709 545116.
Here's a more detailed explanation...
As well as the Games themselves, (and the US Olympic team), BP is sponsoring the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the UK; http://www.london2012.com/cultural-olympiad. We'd like all this wonderful creative activity to be allowed to breathe free of the stench of BP, and in a step towards that eventuality, we're setting up a BP-free Cultural Olympiad gallery on our website. For that, we're inviting you to submit artworks which address this mismatch directly, poetically, peripherally, satirically, elegiacally, comically or hysterically, (or using an adjective of your own choosing.) We'd also like to feature work that looks at the Olympics more generally.
Unless we get a rush of blood to the head, or a group wants to sort an exhibition, this gallery will only exist online, featuring two dimensional artworks (ie. images, films and written word). In return for your labours, we can promise some degree of exposure, (maybe more than usual, given the media's taste for Olympic stories), a link to a site where your work is featured, and our undying gratitude. We apologise for not being able to press any cash into your hand; if it's any consolation, copyright remains with you always. We'll be adding to the gallery throughout 2012, but would appreciate receiving work in the first two months of the year.
There are many good things taking place under the umbrella of the Olympiad; this initiative seeks to shed light on its darker side. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, BP has been hard at work in an attempt to shore up its reputation (which was already beset with troubles surrounding safety and ecological destruction). But the Olympics has presented the company with the perfect platform for some aggressive rebranding. It might also have presented us with a more positive opportunity to expose the gulf between the company's rhetoric and its actions.
For quite some time now, campaigns have been afoot to persuade cultural institutions like the Tate to sever their connections with BP, and Big Oil more generally, the argument being that their own highly valued brands are being damaged by proximity to the sticky black stuff. We reckon that oil companies enjoy undeserved kudos from these relationships, and that they cultivate them not out of kindness, but as part of a cool, calm strategy to ensure that public disgust with their activities doesn't impact on their ability to operate, (in ever deeper Arctic waters it seems.)
So what might the message be to people, be they artists, musicians, poets etc., who take their creativity into the community, and are out there often at the sharp end of austere times, (and with funding sources looking increasingly corporate), quite probably struggling to keep that creativity at the heart of their daily endeavours? Well, we recommend is that you try to find time to take a good, hard look at the way fossil fuel-intensive corporations are operating, and make your own decision as to where you draw the line when it comes to sponsorship. Many would refuse to work on a project sponsored by an arms company, but what if the suffering and (climatic) damage caused by oil companies was even greater?
(Interestingly, there has been talk amongst Indian athletes and beyond of boycotting London 2012 because of its acceptance of sponsorship from Dow Chemical, which now owns the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster: www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/dec/05/indian-government-dow-olympic-spons...)
Then there's the question of what action - beyond creating a piece for our new gallery - to take if you do find a sponsor's activities unacceptable. Like traditional workplace struggles, where a union can help create a united front on an issue, perhaps we need to act together on this, in order to prevent isolation, possible reputation damage or a sense of futility. Let us know what your take is on all this, and let's hope we can take some more concerted action that protects not only our livelihoods and the projects we love, but also a wider worldwide community of humans and other living beings.
Thanks for reading,
Us at Art Not Oil