Liberate Tate’s ‘Human Cost’ performance inside Tate Britain. Photo by Immo Klink - http://climatesafety.info
International websites such as "Art Not Oil", "End oil-sponsorship of the arts", and many more websites, are all saying more or less the same thing:
“It’s time to say enough is enough: oil and gas sponsorship of the arts, sports, culture and education has to end.”
And we agree. But in Portugal we have the situation in which Oil and Art, sports, culture and education do indeed mix. We have for example the case of the Gulbenkian Foundation being one of the biggest art's, culture and education sponsors in Portugal - being heavily involved in the oil and gas industry - after all they own Partex Oil and Gas.
Talk about an oxymoron!
It can be argued, that organisations such as the Gulbenkian Foundation are using their enormous wealth to purchase a veneer of social responsibility and respect by sponsoring the arts, culture, science and education as platforms to showcase themselves as caring and necessary players in society. Thus assisting to reduce public criticism of the oil and gas industry and its major players. After all, if they endorse it ... then they are ok!
It is a sad reality that the ownership of Partex Oil by the Gulbenkian Foundation is not a very well knows fact in Portugal, by most of the locals. So many of those that we engaged with, did not know that – although the Gulbenkian Foundation has not kept that ownership under wraps - the fact remains, it is a fairly unknow fact for the majority of the Portuguese population.
Most people think that the founder of the foundation was indeed involved in the oil industry, but that it was many years ago. Most believe that the Gulbenkian Foundation is mainly involved in civic actions, promoting the arts, culture, education, science and the environment as social causes and as advocates for social good. For many years, I had the same believe.
But the reality is that they do own Partex Oil and Gas, and Partex's CEO which has often been quoted in the Portuguese media as highly critical of the slow-pace of the Portuguese government in granting oil and gas exploration licences.
In the report “Licence to Spill” it states that “We need to take into account that in order for an oil and gas company to produce oil and gas and to transport it to the global markets, it needs either the support or the silence of the population in those areas of the world where this takes place. ”
And we agree with the report findings. Indeed, for oil and gas companies to succeed and put at risk our environment, our planet and even mankind, they have to have the support or the silence of the local population. But to get both the government and the oil and gas companies to change, we need informed stakeholders that can ask questions and voice their thoughs.
We acept that there is a tremendous lack of information out there at present. But the time has come to change that situation and to inform all stakeholders. We believe that local artists do have a part to play by using their art to inform and educate, and we know that many will indeed do so.
What do we want?
We propose that both the oil and gas companies look at better and safer alternatives to oil and gas. There are no real excuses to not do so. The technology exists and its becoming more and more cost effective to move to alternatives.
We really cannot see any justification to spend money in developing an operation from scratch focusing on old technologies and processes to meet our energy needs. Instead we believe that those funds could be better applied to develop greener alternatives. So we call on the current oil and gas licence holders to rather invest in alternative energy processes - green energy.
So we call on all artists in Portugal to unite with their colleagues worldwide and to let their voices be heard against oil and gas.
Read more about what artists are saying world wide as they protest against oil and gas: