Culture Unstained is a research, engagement and campaigning organisation, which aims to end fossil fuel sponsorship of culture. We call on arts and cultural organisations to cut their ties to fossil fuels and, in doing so, aim to undermine the social legitimacy that the industry gains from these relationships.
We exist in order to:
– Bring ethical scrutiny to bear on the fossil fuel industry’s sponsorship deals with major cultural institutions by undertaking research, outreach, network development, advocacy, media and communications work.
– Expose and challenge the fossil fuel industry’s destructive impacts on people and ecosystems around the world, and create spaces for frontline and impacted community voices to be heard.
– Highlight fossil fuel companies’ contributions to climate change, involvement in human rights violations and close ties to repressive regimes
– Be a legitimate and authoritative voice, recognised and respected by culture professionals, the media and the environmental movement, enabling us to challenge decision-makers and provoke informed debate
– Promote and support an ethical approach to the funding of arts and cultural organisations that supports social and climate justice
Ways of working
How we work
– We enhance and support grassroots campaigns involved in ending oil sponsorship and challenging the fossil fuel industry
– We proactively seek out opportunities to work in solidarity with frontline and impacted communities, culture sector workers and others who are committed to decarbonising and decolonising cultural spaces, and promoting ethical, sustainable funding for the arts. We recognise that climate change, human rights abuses, resource exploitation and colonialism past and present are interconnected and must be challenged together.
– We are a not-for-profit workers’ co-operative.
– We aim for the ethical sourcing of materials, services and goods.
– We do not fly, and seek to travel in the most environmentally-friendly way available.
We are part of the Art Not Oil coalition nationally and the international Fossil Free Culture movement.
We believe in climate, racial, social, economic and gender justice and the interconnectedness between all these, and attempt to envision and embody a more just world through our work.
We believe cultural organisations, the climate movement and our own organisation must commit to the process of decolonisation, recognising that it will be an ongoing process of confronting and addressing forms of systemic racism and oppression where they exist.
Who we work with
We work in partnership with those that share and appreciate our values. In some cases, people and organisations will support this campaign that do not align with all of our core values. In these situations, we may form strategic relationships in order to further our shared aims but may choose not to collaborate more closely or over the longer term. We continually review such relationships and ways of working because it is essential that we do not undermine other struggles that run parallel to, or intersect with, our own.
Who we accept funding from
Culture Unstained is a small organisation and we primarily seek funding from charitable foundations or similar bodies. We acknowledge that in a capitalist system many of the sources of funding available to us may be tainted by a degree of exploitation and environmental harm. Our responsibility is to exercise the agency we do have in order to avoid perpetuating or exacerbating any harm, and to put the money we do accept towards addressing the pressing problems we exist to challenge.
However, we do have clear red lines around sources of funding we would never accept. We will not take money from funders who make their income from activities that abuse human rights, contribute to climate change, cause environmental destruction or depend on the depletion of finite resources.
We recognise that endowments and funds will often have historical ties to unethical activities. In these cases, we may accept funding from those that have taken comprehensive steps to confront, learn from and address the origins of their funds. We will not accept funding that could be used to “cleanse” the reputation of the funder where the original source of the funds goes against our core values.
We make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, guided by our due diligence questions. We reserve the right to review and revise our approach, and reject or return funding, if new information about a source of funds comes to light.
How we make decisions
Decisions on funding are made by the Co-Directors, who may seek input or guidance from the Advisory Group. In some circumstances, we may also seek advice from external expertise.
Due diligence process for acceptance of funding
- Have the funds originated from an activity that we believe to be clearly unethical and that would cross a clear red line?
- Does the source of funding have some relationship or connection to an activity that we have legitimate ethical concerns about?
- Would our acceptance of those funds:
a. Further that activity?
b. Further the exploitation or harm that can be caused by that activity?
c. Lend legitimacy to that activity and thereby create an increased risk of harm?
- If the funds have a historic connection to an unethical activity, what is the funder’s relationship to that activity today? Is the funder taking sufficient steps to confront, learn from and take concrete steps to address the origins of its wealth, as it relates to questions of gender, race and other forms of injustice?
- What does the funder expect from us in return for the acceptance of funds? Are there any unreasonable or unrealistic conditions attached to the acceptance of funding that would undermine our independence or integrity as an organisation?
- Does the funder expect us to publicly acknowledge or express thanks for their funding? Will they promote their support for our work/organisation in any contexts that would conflict with our values or misrepresent us as an organisation?
- Does the funder understand and respect our values as an organisation?
- Could accepting these funds damage our reputation as an organisation working on ethical funding?