Ballet protest against BP pollution

This video from London, England says about itself:

Protest at ’BP Screens’ event by Extinction Rebellion

On Tuesday 11th June 2019, the Royal Opera House beamed its performance of the Romeo and Juliet ballet to audiences at around 20 venues around the country, kicking off this year’s ‘BP Big Screens’ season. Opera and ballet enthusiasts including many who might not be able to afford Royal Opera House prices, get to see some of the very best performances for free, while enjoying a picnic with friends.

In the lead-up to the broadcast, a special half-hour introduction takes place at Trafalgar Square, with a live presenter introducing rehearsal clips, backstage gossip, and an infomercial about the wonderful philanthropy of one of the world’s biggest oil companies, BP, sponsors of the event, who plaster their logo on the screens and hand out their ‘free’ merchandise.

Each year, the BP Screens events attract some sort of protest, from groups like ‘BP or not BP?’ and the Art Not Oil Coalition, but this year the reaction to oil sponsorship was the biggest yet, with pieces in major newspapers, a letter to Sadiq Khan signed by 200 musicians asking him to ban BP from Trafalgar Square, and a protest at the event by more than a hundred Extinction Rebellion supporters.

The protest included a performance by The Invisible Circus Red Rebel Brigade. This took place near the Fourth Plinth, which is the temporary base for a work by Mark Rakowitz, part of his ‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’ series, a recreation of the Lamassu – a sculpture destroyed by ISIS/Daesh at the Gates of Nineveh in modern-day Iraq. Rakowitz made the work out of empty date syrup cans. The significance is that dates are a massive export business for the country and an alternative to oil. BP was notoriously involved in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion – holding meetings with ministers to lobby for their spoils of war – and then given massive 20-year contracts, the largest in the history of the oil industry, as part of the post-war carve-up.

Young artists from The Brit School, Croydon, joined the protest with their ‘No Theatre on a Dead Planet’ banner, and music was supplied by a small orchestra who called themselves ‘Extinction Rebellion Baroque’.

Inside the square, the presenter, Alexander Campbell (Royal Ballet principal), acknowledged the protest was going on, but the camera did its best to avoid the noise and red banners from being seen on the broadcast to the other venues. At one point, XR Youth protesters waded into the fountain to unexpectedly appear behind Mr Campbell, and from then on, his pieces to camera were banished to the side of the stage, with none of the usual iconic London backdrop, so as to avoid further embarrassment to BP sponsors.

A few minutes before the actual show began, the XR protesters read out their Rebellion Declaration in unison, and then having highlighted BP’s complicity in the climate emergency, they peacefully left the area so as not to disrupt the actual performance. A few onlookers complained about the protest, but the majority of the audience was supportive, and applauded as the protesters filed out as the ballet began.

The protest was organised by a local group of Rebels from Lambeth XR.

By Zachary Shahan:

“Guerilla Ballet” Crashes BP-Sponsored Opera Event in Trafalgar Square, London

July 15, 2011 in Activism, Energy & Fuel, Oil

Friends of a fellow Important Media writer — 3 ballet dancers — made a statement this week in Trafalgar Square, London by interrupting BP’s 3rd Summer Screen there. The ballet dancers danced a short piece based on Swan Lake, “with the classic tale used as analogy for BP’s controversial investment in the Canadian tar sands,” the UK Tar Sands Network reports.

“The performance featured the White Swan being smeared by an oily substance and suffocated with a cloth.” The opera crowd respected and enjoyed the performance and gave the grand finale an applause and cheers.

Charlie Byers played the prince in the dance, Emily Coats played the White Swan Odette, and Will McCallum played the ‘BP’ villain Rothbart.

“The tar sands are one of the biggest threats to the future of our climate,” Byers said. “[T]hey are also destroying local communities and wildlife, trampling indigenous rights, and running Canada out of water and natural gas. It is a key time to pressure BP to withdraw, as the corporation has already substantially invested in the tar sands but will not start profiting for years to come.”

“Most people have never heard of tar sands, and BP would be happy to keep it that way,” UK Tar Sands campaigner Coats said. “We used classical dance – an unusual campaigning medium – to introduce the issue to a new audience. The performance was meant to be enjoyed, but also to shock, with a visible struggle between a vulnerable creature and a powerful oil giant.”

And McCallum, of the group Art of Activism, said:

“By sponsoring the Summer Screens, BP is bringing art to thousands of people, but it is also creating a false image which hides its dirty investments. Public pressure has in the past caused institutions to stop accepting sponsorship from destructive companies. Without being able to put its name by our beloved cultural institutions, BP would suffer a real blow to its public legitimacy.”

Great work by the trio and all who supported them. Indeed, much more attention needs to be put on the extremely harmful exploitation of the tar sands.

Canadian government accused of ‘unprecedented’ tar sands lobbying: here.

In marking the one year anniversary of the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I signed a letter of protest along with 165 other arts professionals and activists that appeared in the Guardian on April 20, 2011. Titled Tate should end its relationship with BP, the letter calls on the Tate Gallery of London “to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future by ending its sponsorship relationship with BP”: here.

Thousands of baby pelicans grunt and hiss at their parents in tightly packed nests on Gaillard Island, a feathered paradise situated off the coast of Alabama. The 1,300-acre, man-made island is hosting more than 50,000 birds this summer as nesting pairs gather to raise babies. That number would be considered high in any year, but it’s a particularly surprising sight a year after oil from the BP spill fouled surrounding waters. The Deepwater Horizon rig explosion spewed more than 168 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over three months, the largest spill in U.S. history. But so far, there is no evidence of deformities or ill health among the young on Gaillard Island. Scientists speculate that the baby boom probably results from an abundance of fish left undisturbed in waterways where the federal government banned commercial and recreational fishing last summer, providing a feast for shore birds: here.

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