On Friday 14th July, the opera Turandot will be screened at Bradford City Park as part of the BP Big Screens initiative with the Royal Opera House.
We will be there to protest against BP’s funding of the arts – just as people have protested against BP’s funding of the RSC, the British Museum and the Tate Modern.
This protest will involve fliering (BP-Royal Opera House flier June 17) and distributing stickers (BP-ROH sticker) to the audience – as well as displaying a banner – before the show and then being available to talk to people after the show. The flier includes links to the petition ‘Royal Opera House – Cut ties with toxic BP!’
The protest will not in any way disrupt the performance. We have informed Bradford police of our plans.
All are welcome to join us. We think that, in this case, it’s important for us to be aware of numbers and to have a conversation with people joining us before the event. Please email us by 11th July if you’re thinking of joining us, even if you aren’t 100% sure.
What’s wrong with BP?
BP has repeatedly caused environmental catastrophes and propped up regimes accused of human rights abuses in multiple countries where it operates.
BP has invested at least £1.6 billion in tar sands extraction in Canada.
We know that to avoid dangerous climate change we must leave 80% of know fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Yet BP intends to continue expanding its oil extraction activities, causing deadly climate change, whilst lobbying against environmental laws and clean energy alternatives.
What’s wrong with arts sponsorship?
BP sponsors the arts to generate good publicity. It helps BP present itself as a caring, generous member of the community, whilst continuing to destroy the environment and contribute to human rights abuses around the world.
We call this ‘artwash’.
The arts and cultural institutions that accept sponsorship from BP are effectively legitimising BP’s actions, by giving them positive publicity. It taints the reputation of those institutions.
BP provides less than 1% of the income of the Royal Opera House. BP needs the Royal Opera House more than it needs BP. Furthermore, recent research has shown that – in light of the £210 million per year subsidies given to BP – we can say that BP arts sponsorships are really funded by us, the taxpayers.
What’s the alternative?
Funding for the arts is vital. We support increased Government funding for the arts. This could be more than paid for by ending subsidies to BP.
Cultural organisations are already cutting links with BP. In 2016, both the Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival dropped BP. This didn’t stop the Edinburgh festival producing a fantastic programme of world-leading performance art in August 2016.
Hundreds of individual artists and arts organisations have already made the Oil Sponsorship Free Commitment not to accept funding from fossil fuel companies.
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