Woodside cuts all ties with Perth's Fringe World Festival after years of environmental protests | Culture

Fossil fuel company Woodside has cut all ties with the arts company behind one of the world's biggest fringe festivals, after years of complaints and protests from artists, producers and audiences.

A Woodside spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the philanthropic deal with Artridge, one of Western Australia's largest arts organisations, had been terminated.

A spokesman said Woodside's decision not to renew the partnership came late last year, 18 months after Artridge forced public pressure to withdraw Woodside's naming rights to major Fringe World events. The sponsorship was quietly changed to a Private philanthropic agreement Three weeks later, at an arm's length from the festival, with the Art Institute.

This year's Fringe World, which opened on January 19 and hosted 550 events in more than 100 venues last year, is the first in more than a decade to be free of fossil fuel sponsorship.

Environmental activist group Fossil Free Arts said the split between Artridge and Woodside was a victory and would set its sights on other major arts institutions in Western Australia, including the state's premier ballet company, which still relies on sponsorships from oil and gas companies. and symphony orchestra.

Fossil Free Arts spokesman Anthony Collins said Fringe World had won after a five-year campaign.

„It's a credit to the WA arts scene that the festival season doesn't encourage the destruction caused by two of the state's biggest polluters,” Collins said in a statement.

„Now is the time for other companies to sever ties with major polluters or face negative consequences for their support of the LNG industry, which is betting against a livable climate.”

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A spokesperson for Artridge said the company acknowledged the positive contributions received through Woodside's 18-month philanthropic collaboration.

„The pandemic has been a huge financial challenge for Fringe World, and the Artridge team has worked tirelessly to keep the festival going and increase support for artists who have been hit hardest,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

„Without sponsors like Woodside, Fringe World would not be able to provide an annual platform for artists to perform and the community to enjoy.”

Artridge declined to disclose how much cash and in-kind support the oil and gas company has provided over the past decade.

A spokesman said the arts organization had reviewed its financial model to achieve a „more balanced income portfolio”.

„Thanks to the generous contributions of our sponsors, past and present, and the wonderful people who attend and support our events, we have been able to reduce ticket fees and double cash awards and bursaries,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for Woodside said that as a global energy company with domestic and international operations, it is proud to be a part of the diverse communities in which it works.

„We recognize the importance of our role in delivering reciprocal and sustainable social outcomes in the communities we are a part of,” the statement said.

„We've built real, long-term relationships with our partners and host communities for more than three decades.”

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