How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts


1:07 pm - November 14th 2010

by Guest    


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contribution by Sophie Allain

The oil industry has an image problem: oil slicked birds, gas flares in Nigeria and eye watering profits paint an ugly, but pretty representative picture of their business. And so it follows that in a bid to bolster their brands they stamp their logos across art institutions across the capital.

But a growing protest movement is targeting oil sponsorship in the arts as a way to undermine the PR campaigns of oil companies.

Platform, an art/activist organisation are launching a campaign to force oil out of the arts.

We just need to raise some cash (ethically) to make it happen and they are asking us all to chip in to reach their target.

UK taxpayers subsidise the oil industry to the tune of tens of millions of pounds in tax breaks every year. More than that, as the Mexican coast slowly recovers from the Deepwater Horizon spill, the UK government is encouraging deepwater drilling off the coast of Scotland.

How do oil companies get away with it? They manufacture a brand image that smoothes over the damage caused and lets them sit in our collective consciousness next to other British institutions – like Big Ben, the Queen and the British Museum.

Platform produced a short pamphlet, Licence to Spill, that looked at some of these issues.

De-legitimising the brands of BP and Shell is a serious task, but one that art activist collective Liberate Tate approached with creative flare, imagination and a good helping of oil-like molasses.

Spawned from a workshop on disobedience in the Tate’s own programme that staff attempted to censor, Liberate Tate are all about aesthetically striking and disruptive interventions, with the aim of building a movement to force oil out of the arts in the same way that tobacco sponsorship was forced out of sport.

What next?
Plans are afoot to take over a mainstream gallery space in central London for a week, to create a hive of ideas and activity, to get hundreds of people through the door, and to take the campaign to the next level.

A campaign has been launched to raise the £2,500 needed, through small personal donations. To get involved or donate directly, see http://www.indiegogo.com/LicenceToSpill

This is all about a new, audacious, vibrant movement, thinking creatively and not afraid to have fun while making serious interventions.


Photo credit: Immo Klink

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Reader comments


[deleted]

Um, but if you de-legitimise Shell and BP, who is going to get the oil out of the ground?

You haven’t thought this through, have you?

A: “The arts don’t get enough funding, apart from weird individuals who’ll only fund art to their own personal tastes, and the bastards in charge are cutting public arts funding.”

B: “Ah, the best way to deal with this it to take sponsors who’ll fund any art whatsoever, based solely on the tastes of people who love art, and tell them to fuck off because there was an industrial accident off Louisiana that made Americans grumpy.”

A: “Yes, you’re right. That’s definitely the best thing we could possibly ever do to the arts. Let’s tell everyone who’s involved with the arts to get any sponsors they might have, unless they’ve made their money by selling vegetarian fair-trade windmills, that they can all get fucked.”

Coda: artists return to garrets; world is culturally impoverished; oil is still pumped.

are you sure “rely on” might not be more accurate than “subsidize” when it comes to tax payers and oil.

“This is all about a new, audacious, vibrant movement, thinking creatively and not afraid to have fun while making serious interventions.”

why do art types have to be so self-congratulatory?

“How do oil companies get away with it?”

Because everyone knows that without oil companies billions of us starve and freeze to death?

Can somebody explain why we wouldn’t want oil companies to make contributions to the public good? Also, why would we want to do down the name of BP (as opposed to advocating that institutional investors and governments work constructively with the management to improve health and safety standards) when they provide one seventh of the total dividends paid out by the FTSE 100?

I think I know which organisation out of BP and Platform provides greater benefit to the British common weal. And it isn’ t the dirty logically-challenged hippies covered in molasses…

Um, but if you de-legitimise Shell and BP, who is going to get the oil out of the ground?

You haven’t thought this through, have you?

Hmmm – sounds like you’re the one who hasn’t. There’s a difference between stigmatising companies, as was done with cigarette prodcuers, and forcing them out of business.

Go back to reading comprehension class please, you and Tim Worstall

“There’s a difference between stigmatising companies, as was done with cigarette prodcuers, and forcing them out of business.”

Oh, right. So this whole great moral campaign is all about just making sure that BP is icky then? But we’ll still use their products while feeling morally superior to those who enable us to live our warm, well fed and comfortable lives?

Right On!

“UK taxpayers subsidise the oil industry to the tune of tens of millions of pounds in tax breaks every year.”

This is interesting. Scottish Nationalists have been telling us that Scotland loses out because North Sea oil revenue shared amongst the whole of the UK. We now find that, in fact, the UK has been sharing a loss rather than a gain.

The audaciously vibrant Sophie Allain may be wrong about this though.

So not a spoof then.

My my somebody’s cranky today.

[deleted]

I can’t stand ‘the arts’, to be honest: they’re all about delegitimating popular culture.

This is just about an economic elite funding a cultural one, and the cultural elite just feeling queazy about it.

The rest of us are just bystanders at a handbag fight.

@12 – very amusing!

Hmmm – sounds like you’re the one who hasn’t. There’s a difference between stigmatising companies, as was done with cigarette prodcuers, and forcing them out of business.

Not sure that’s really a like-for-like comparison. Unlike cigarette producers (who probably *should* be forced out of business) the oil companies do actually produce something necessary for society to function.

Ugh, I just agreed with Tim Worstall there. I feel a bit soiled.

Yes, oil companies do some unacceptable things in the process of getting the gooey stuff out of the ground, but I suspect telling them not to give money to a sector of society that’s already losing lots of cash elsewhere isn’t going to be the way to stop them doing it.

I’d suggest that a more fruitful avenue would be to encourage the R&D of the new generation of electric vehicles, but Nissan and General Motors seem to working pretty hard on that without any help from us anyway.

“I’d suggest that a more fruitful avenue would be to encourage the R&D of the new generation of electric vehicles, ”

Hey, just send your money to me! This is what I do in the day job, work on how to get the materials that will allow fuel cells to work. Most especially, how to make them work in cars (even to the point of having paid for, myself, some of the basic research).

£50,000 cheques are the minimum we can deal with though…..

‘@12 – very amusing!’

And not at all insincere: I’m a big fan of Paul Willis and Pierre Bourdieu, both of whom have shown how cultural distinctions surrounding ‘the arts’ are used to devalue ‘common’ culture.

Wow as someone on who has been in the creative industries for 10 years, has given work to non arty people through my business-I contributed to the economy x 10!-and who is now studying am MBA in the creative industries it’s quite embarrassing how uninformed any of you are about the contribution creativity has on society and gulp the economy!

The usual haters are here Worstall,Luis et al, always reading to shout from the roof tops when you insult capitalism just because it fits in with their self involved, self obsessive and slightly sociopathic view of the world that means only helping them and their reality.

I don’t have a problem with a genuine free market but WTF should BP completely take over the market and monopolize it as well? Thie in lies the problem. Yes we need oil, so because who cares who is being killed or stolen from to get that oil?

You say millions of people would starve Tim, oh didn’t know you cared so much! Who are these people? Those blacks in the Niger area? Most of the third world? Considering that these places that are soo rich with all that natural resources are so god damn poor they don’t even have lighting, I am curious to ALL these people who have benefitted but oh wait, of course. So those who benefitted are BP, a British company that takes all that profit back to the UK where it is legally structured and the Western world.

If BP wanted to do good, they would open up the market and make the selling of oil more socially responsible.

The Koch brothers give a huge amount to Art in the US. It has always been the only way these cruel hard sociopaths will give charitable money so they won’t be tax. They despise the human species and think we’re cockroaches but what the he’ll, if the poor or lefty still wish to bury their heads in the sand and see the world all good and bad, then who are we to blame but ourselves for letting these creeps stay in power?

“You say millions of people would starve Tim, oh didn’t know you cared so much!”

Well, you and me, obviously, along with a good 90% of those who live in oil powered industrialised societies.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 14

“Unlike cigarette producers (who probably *should* be forced out of business) the oil companies do actually produce something necessary for society to function.”

Um, and who will produce my cigarettes after that? Or will I just be forced to go through withdrawal so you can enjoy your anti-smoking putsch?

I’ve emailed the Fair Trade foundation several times about selling fair-trade cigarettes and tobacco, alas the whole “causing cancer” thing makes it a bit of a non-starter from their point of view. But! There is a tobacco company called American Spirit that seem quite ethical etc and can be found in smoking shops and some supermarkets I believe.
~
OT: the question remains who funds the arts if not BP etc? I’m certainly no fan of Big Oil but I do love having free museums and art galleries. If only because on a rainy day it’s quite nice to drop in.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 20

“I’ve emailed the Fair Trade foundation several times about selling fair-trade cigarettes and tobacco, alas the whole “causing cancer” thing makes it a bit of a non-starter from their point of view.”

I will try to avoid turning into a reactionary ol’ walrus on this issue, but this sort of thing – along with the attitude of people like Spiritof1976 – really pisses me off. Smoking is bad for you, so let’s ban it. Smoking is uncool, so let’s avoid making a positive change to the lives of people who produce it. Better to look whiter than white than to do some good in the world.

I’ll give American Spirit a whirl if they make rolling baccy: my budget won’t stretch to straights.

“OT: the question remains who funds the arts if not BP etc? I’m certainly no fan of Big Oil but I do love having free museums and art galleries. If only because on a rainy day it’s quite nice to drop in.”

Agreed. I don’t like the idea of the state abandoning culture altogether, but I have trouble justifying tax being spent on it, especially when we’re still dealing with child poverty and triaging* people at the NHS.

*This a word? Is now!

@Chaise

I know, it’s not like chocolate is *good* for you but they still make that fair trade!

*sigh*

Yeah they do the rolling stuff, not bought straights myself since the recession aheh.. tho’ tis slightly more pricey than normal for obvious ethical & organic reasons.

I like the lottery funding stuff, which as they say is a tax in its own way, but I’m guessing that doesn’t have enough and arts need big bucks (hence oil money etc). maybe we need more billionaire philanthropists in this country.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts http://bit.ly/cVaW2A

  2. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts: contribution by Sophie Allain
    The oil industry has an… http://bit.ly/bqWZY8

  3. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts http://bit.ly/cVaW2A

  4. Sharon Jones

    How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts | Liberal Conspiracy: The oil industry has an image problem: oi… http://bit.ly/9bTpXi

  5. wendy keenan

    How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/8b8bIop via @libcon

  6. wendy keenan

    How you can help us kick Big Oil out of the arts | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/LWqUDL9 via @libcon





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