Expression of cultural mirrors in the production of art is a strong emotive force in the decisions artists make in what to assign their energy to. Creative people like to keep busy, and they want to feel that their art is adding to something of value in society and so activism will clearly be a landmark on the map of intent for many people who make art.
The theatre group “BP or not BP” which is based in London, are running like-minded artistic protests in order to shine a floodlight on the problems caused by the oil industry. The Financial Times has reported that art museums who perhaps gain large corporate funding from big oil giants are having to deal with mounting pressure to say no to this greasy money.
The question, and the challenge, is maybe not in the cultural gains provided by the oil business, but the fact they have the money to support at all. I feel that the public display of art and culture, be it in a museum, gallery, or library anywhere in the world is worth funding. Taking money away from an industry with inherent ethical concerns and investing it into something that is a valuable experience for everybody, regardless of career, cannot be shunned as completely bad. It can be seen as just one way of actively reducing their corporate gains, filtering off the profits of greed and putting them where they need to be.
I'm not here to talk about how bad the oil industry is, there's plenty about that elsewhere, but the issue I made earlier is that the problem lays in the ground, not in the fruits. The reason oil can pay for these museums is because people like you and me use it and therefore pay for it in many aspects of our lives. If we use a car or a bus then we are paying for oil, if we use a plastic bottle for our milk or water then we're paying for oil. It is everywhere, and the best way to shift the power balance is to make a conscious decision to use alternatives. Good old glass and refillable hard wearing plastic bottles can be better, electric or other eco-fuelled vehicles are also excellent incentives for environmental change.
Maybe the arts can do more for environmental awareness, and the work we do as creative individuals could take this challenge on some more, like BP or not BP, who seem to be doing a great job by getting their name mentioned in the main press.
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