See below for a more detailed explanatory pdf, but in the meantime:
Art Not Oil has campaigned against Big Oil cultural sponsorship since 2004. It has also encouraged artists - and would-be artists - to create work that explores the damage that companies like BP and Shell are doing to the planet, and to celebrate the role art can play in counteracting that damage, seeking solutions or simply lifting the spirits. A huge amount of this work is now featured in its 14 online galleries, the most recent of which was 'Cultural or Vultural 2012?', which was a response to BP's sponsorship of both the 2012 Olympics, and the Cultural Olympiad.
Art Not Oil is part of Rising Tide, a UK and international network of grassroots groups taking direct action for 'climate justice'.
It is designed in part to paint a truer portrait of an oil company than the caring image manufactured by events such as the BP Portrait Award, Shell's sponsorship of classic drama at the National Theatre, and other 'cultural activities' of the oil multinationals which also happen to divert public attention away from their actual activities. Climate chaos is set to have a catastrophic effect on all of us, while hitting the poorest hardest. The companies most responsible are profiting handsomely, yet they're still welcome it seems in many of our most prestigious public galleries and museums.
In 2007-8, our Art Not Oil and 'Shell's Wild Lie' exhibitions toured the UK as well as growing in their online galleries. Shell's Wild Lie was part of our campaign against Shell's sponsorship of the Natural History Museum's 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' exhibition, which also included actions and copious communications from concerned members of the public. We worked with Friends of the Earth to bring campaigners affected by Shell's destructive activities to London, and FoE ran an excellent campaign to raise awareness. We can't be sure exactly why the 2 year contract between the NHM and Shell wasn't renewed, but we were completely cockahoop at the result.
2009 was our 6th year of operation, and began with the end of Shell at the National Theatre (potentially), with 'Oedipus' closing on Ogoni Day - January 4th.
The Shell Galleries grew inexorably; we added a BP Gallery to keep it company.
Our 2010 diary was used by all sorts of interested and interesting people, (we still have a few left over, in case you're interested - it was a one-off, so naturally it's something you'll want your grandchildren to find amongst your belongings.)
BP's Deepwater oil spill in April 2010 triggered a wave of actions against BP's sponsorship of culture, particularly the Tate, spearheaded by Liberate Tate and Licence to Spill, and followed by the Reclaim Shakespeare Company. They have joined us in the campaign to push - or nudge - sponsored institutions to adopt climate (justice)-related sponsorship criteria.
We can't be sure of the reasons, but we heard in April 2011 that the Almeida Theatre no longer accepts sponsorship from BP. It may have been our flow of courteous communications in 2010, or the Art Not Oil dairies delivered to every employee; it might have been the vocal opposition to BP of musician (and sometime Almeida collaborator) Matthew Herbert...it may have been other factors. Whatever the cause, it's excellent news. We wish the Almeida the best of luck in continuing to stage powerful theatre in the face of a tough Arts Council cut.
Every time a cultural institution turns down fossil fuelled support, Big Oil's stranglehold on us all is eased a little. When the entire sector has gone the way of Big Tobacco in being unwelcome in any gallery, museum, opera house or theatre, the transition to a more just and safer world will be more within our grasp than ever.
We hope you are affected by what you see here, and are able to help us speed up the process of getting Big Oil kicked out of High Culture. If you have any queries, or would like to get involved, whether submitting artwork, hosting an exhibition, doing publicity or getting involved with many other tasks that need doing to highlight the actions we need to take to combat climate chaos and social injustice, then...
...please ring us on: 07709 545116 or see Contact Us
Art Not Oil is a project of Rising Tide UK.
Art Not Oil: What's Happened and Why?
Here is an extended version of the piece that appeared in the 2010 Art Not Oil desk diary