23.6.12 - Saturday, 30 June 2012, 15:05.
Hot on the heels of their appearance at the Shell vs. Bodo case at the High Court (http://bit.ly/LgLiw0) activists from London Rising Tide, along with friends from Shell to Sea and Art Not Oil, staged a protest inside and outside the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 23rd June, highlighting the greenwashing of Shell's tarnished image through cultural sponsorship in their 'Shell Classic International' festival at the Southbank Centre.
At dusk, prior to the hotly-anticipated Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela concert, activists gathered near their Southbank target and prepared their 'Shell Hell' face masks and grim reaper costumes. Shortly before seven, they formed a procession and swiftly made their way to the entrance of the Royal Festival Hall. As the demonic figures processed with "Shell - No More Greenwash" banners, handing out hundreds of leaflets, two insurgent clandestine reapers made their way onto each balcony in the auditorium. The leaflets reminded people how once, cultural sponsorship by 'big tobacco' was acceptable. Campaigners wish to make 'big oil' sponsorship unacceptable in the way that tobacco now is. 'Big oil' is an ecocidal industry wreaking climate change havoc, as well as destroying lives (literally in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists), in Nigeria, Ireland, and Canada (where tar sands extraction covering the size of England is destroying the environment and indigenous lives and futures).
In order to 'greenwash' its image, Shell only have to channel the tiniest crumbs of its £35,000 per minute profits (2011) in order to cynically protect its image through cultural sponsorship. Outside the Royal Festival Hall, the security men and women soon began to appear, drawn out by a second visit from Shell's Hell Reapers, leaving those inside a clearer passage. After asking the costumed protesters to leave, despite some gentle passive resistance, the burly security men eventually dragged everyone away from the doors. So, as a mixture of genuine music lovers, and corporate f**kwits entered hall, they saw the costumes, and most people readily accepted the leaflets, often with very positive reaction. Meanwhile inside, "Shell - No More Greenwash" unfurled from opposite balconies, and the insurgent clandestine reapers began a dialogue across the auditorium.
Why are we here? To protest against Shell's sponsorship of this lovely event! Why shouldn't Shell sponsor music? Because it serves to cover up their climate crimes? What climate crimes? Oil spills and military bribes in Nigeria, bringing in toxic gas to Ireland, extracting toxic tar sands in Canada, causing exceptionally high rates of cancer! What do we want people here to do? Enjoy the concert and afterwards think about what we said and rip the Shell logos out of the programmes!
A handful of the audience began booing but were drowned out by the remainder applauding them out in appreciation of said insurgent clandestine reapers. After the intervention security was overhead reporting that activists had performed an 'eloquent speech about music's place in society and environmental crimes'.
Shell's greenwash is looking dirtier by the minute. http://www.facebook.com/people/Rising-Tide-UK/515246801 On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RisingTide_UK