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Top End artists protest Santos sponsorship


Almost 200 artists and creative producers have penned an open letter to the Northern Territory’s top multicultural arts festival demanding it dump Adelaide-based oil and gas producer Santos as a major sponsor.

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They want the Darwin Festival, scheduled for August, to take a leading role in the battle against climate change by rejecting sponsorship from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction.

“Artists and audiences have made it clear that we will not accept arts and cultural institutions being used as a vehicle for the promotion of fossil fuels and the damage their use has on our collective future,” the letter said.

Santos’ sponsorship deal includes the naming rights to the opening night concert on August 4 in Darwin called Bungul, when Yolnu dancers and songmen will perform with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

The letter accused the festival organisers of providing Santos, the nation’s second-largest independent gas producer, with a platform that enabled it to continue “harmful practices” damaging to communities, culture and climate.

“Fossil fuel sponsorship and messages promoting its expansion has no place in our arts, culture and public institutions,” it said.

The group also called out Santos over allegations it had not obtained consent from some Tiwi Islanders for exploration drilling on the Barossa offshore gas field, 300 kilometres north of Darwin.

It also raised concerns over gas fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, saying it will release greenhouse emissions with global climate consequences.

“Artists and Territorians should not be made complicit with this type of climate sabotage through Darwin Festival’s choice to accept funds from Santos and other fossil fuel sponsors,” the letter said.

“We don’t want to see this good work and the festival’s good name used as a vehicle for any future promotion and art-washing by fossil fuel companies which are doing irreparable damage.”

The letter has 190 signatories, including those of Denise Quall, Mikaela Earnshaw, James Cubillo, Genevieve Grieves and Kamahi Djordon King.

Traditional owners will speak and perform on Thursday at a rally to launch the Darwin Festival Dump Santos campaign.

 – AAP

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