Our fellow art centre and indeed one of the world’s largest, the Southbank Centre in London has recently announced that it is ending its sponsorship relationship with Royal Dutch Shell.
Described by The Guardian Newspaper as ‘The most vibrant arts centre in the country’, The Southbank Centre’s concert halls and gallery space host thousands of musicians and artists performing to millions of visitors each year. It also offers art and activities to the general public and is one of the UK’s most popular cultural destinations.
However, the art centre had held a controversial sponsorship relationship with Shell who have been fiercely criticised for many environmental and human rights injustices.
There have been many protests held against Shell at the Southbank Centre in recent years, raising awareness of the Shell’s injustices. ‘Platform’, ‘London Rising Tide’ and ‘Shell Out Sounds’ have all carried out such protests with the latter giving an unauthorised choral performance from the choir seats just as a ‘Shell Classic Concert’ was about to begin in October 2013.
The following month 21 artists signed an open letter demanding that Southbank drop Shell as a sponsor.
This successful campaign was part of what is a now growing movement against oil sponsorship. Art Not Oil is an art group that are pushing to end the oil industry’s sponsorship of the arts.
The Southbank Centre’s decision makes a statement and is a lead that can now be followed by institutions in similar positions, including the Tate, the Science Museum and the Royal Opera House who currently hold similar relationships with companies such as BP and Shell.