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Art, Environment

Fringe festival cuts final ties with Woodside

CMC 3 mins read

The organisation that runs Perth’s Fringe World Festival - Artrage - has ended its partnership with Woodside, after a multi year campaign by members of the WA arts community to get the fossil fuel giant out of the festival. 

Campaigners are delighted as Perth’s first ‘fossil free’ festival season begins this month with Fringe World beginning on January 19 followed by Perth Festival on February 9. This follows the mutual conclusion of Perth Festival’s partnership with Chevron in 2023 after mounting pressure from the community. 

Years of campaigning by activists and artists centred predominantly around the Fringe World naming rights deal with Woodside. The first signs of victory came in 2021 when the naming rights deal was dropped but Artrage transitioned Woodside’s funding to partner directly with the organisation itself. 

Since then, artists have continued to maintain pressure on Artrage to ensure an end to Woodside’s involvement with FringeWorld. Having been told by the Artrage board at previous AGMs that Woodside’s funding would be used with the express purpose of building capacity to obtain more philanthropic sponsorship, Woodside is no longer listed as a partner on Artrage’s website. 

Artists were unhappy to have to be associated with WA's two biggest polluting companies - Woodside and Chevron - at the two best work opportunities they have each year (Fringe and Perth Fest). 

Chevron, Australia’s fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter, is also the second highest historic greenhouse gas emitting company in the world. Woodside, Australia’s eighth largest greenhouse gas emitter, is doubling down on fossil fuel extraction with its proposed Burrup Hub, while the world has agreed to transition away from fossil fuels. 

Artists and activists came together nearly five years ago and devised a plan to pressure Perth’s two biggest festivals to cut ties with WA’s two biggest polluters. The campaign has resulted in protest performances, on stage disruption, a month long protest show, projected messages beaming into performances, a stakeholder petition, protests and the presentation of petitions at Woodside’s AGM,

Performing Artists calling out fossil fuel sponsors, the creation of an alternative fossil free festival, and engaging with Festival organisers throughout. 

The resulting conclusions of relationships with Chevron and Woodside is the culmination of the first aims of this campaign. Other arts organisations which are still partnered with Woodside include WA Ballet, WA Youth Orchestra and WA Symphony Orchestra. 

One of the leaders of the campaign is Anthony Collins from Fossil Free Arts. He said: 

“When we all first sat in a room together five years ago to set this goal of kicking these huge companies out of our biggest festivals, I’m not sure how many of us thought we would actually achieve this. I would urge others to draw inspiration from what we have done and call out the promotion of fossil fuel extremists. 

“It is a credit to the WA arts scene that festival season is no longer promoting the destruction being caused by the state’s two biggest polluters. It is now a matter of time before other institutions either cut ties with big polluters or face negative consequences due to their support of an LNG industry which is betting against a livable climate. 

One of the Artists in the campaign is Noemie Huttner-Koros an Artist, Writer and Community Organiser with Arts & Cultural Workers for Climate Action. They said: 

“It's so exciting to hear that Fringe World and Artrage, the third largest Fringe festival in the world, has now completely cut ties with Woodside - a fossil fuel company which is taking us on a path of climate catastrophe and gas-fuelled disasters. Thanks to a broad coalition of concerned community members, artists and audience members, this will be the first festival season in WA where the two biggest arts festivals - Fringe World and Perth Festival - will no longer be sponsored by fossil fuel companies! 

“After coming through the hottest year on record, the November Wanneroo bushfires and governments across the world agreeing to phase out fossil fuels at the recent COP Climate Summit, it is crystal-clear that we must end the era of fossil fuels. While the WA government continues to sabotage any meaningful action on the climate crisis, it is up to everyday people, in all sectors - including the arts, to stand up and speak out for a better future. Woodside's plans for the Burrup Hub is a disaster for climate and

culture. This community and people-powered campaign demonstrates that all arts companies have the ability and responsibility to transition away from fossil fuels and stand up for climate justice. I look forward to more arts organisations in WA and across the country continuing to act.” 

For more info contact Anthony Collins, Campaigner @ Fossil Free Arts 

On whatsapp: +447983899796 or email collinsconsult@protonmail.com


Contact details:

For more info contact Anthony Collins, Campaigner at Fossil Free Arts - WhatsApp: +447983899796 - email: collinsconsult@protonmail.com

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