Leading UK arts organizations the Southbank Center, a complex encompassing the Hayward Gallery, National Poetry Library, and the Royal Festival Hall, among other venues, and the British Film Institute (BFI) will no longer receive funding from the fossil fuel giant Shell. They are the latest cultural institutions to end relationships with major oil companies in recent months—citing the climate emergency, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Galleries Scotland severed ties with British Petroleum last year.
Shell confirmed that it is not renewing its sponsorship deals with the institutions and that the decision was mutual. “Last year we decided not to renew annual memberships with the BFI or the Southbank Center, collectively worth around £20,000 [$25,860], when they expire later this year,” a Shell spokesperson told The Guardian.
Harriet Finney, the BFI’s director of external affairs, said the institute was “committed to supporting a sustainable future. . . .We are in the process of reviewing the impact of our own activities across all our sites; how we can better support the UK’s screen industries to move towards sustainable practice and how we respond culturally to the climate and ecological emergency.”
While a representative of the Southbank Center confirmed that the partnership between the complex and Shell will not continue, they did not make further remarks. Shell and the Southbank Center have been linked since 2006.
Leading tenor Mark Padmore, who will perform at Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall this fall, supported the institution’s decision: “Today, more than ever, we all need to examine our way of life and the implications of our actions, as we respond to the growing climate emergency,” he said. “Making beautiful music does not excuse us from seeking to understand how our work is funded and asking questions about the kind of unsustainable businesses those partnerships might promote.”