- That cultural institutions must break their links with the fossil fuel industry. To read our full analysis of why this is so important, click here.
- That oil-sponsored institutions are also ideal venues to provoke a wider public conversation about the destructive activities of the fossil fuel industry, and to amplify the voices of those affected by them.
- That the issue of fossil fuel sponsorship is deeply entwined with issues of colonialism, race, gender, wealth, class and other injustices. For example, many oil-sponsored museums and galleries contain objects violently stolen by colonial powers, or have workers facing low pay, poor conditions, and zero hour contracts while managers and directors take home six-figure salaries. Boards of Trustees of major oil-funded culturalinstitutions are overwhelmingly white, rich and male, and are rarely accountable to their staff and the public. The negative impacts of climate change and oil extraction disproportionately hit poorer communities, women and people of colour around the world.
- Oil sponsorship should therefore not be treated as a “single issue” campaign – it is vital to recognise and act on these connections, and ensure that our activities are supporting, not undermining or ignoring, other vital social struggles.
- Performance and creativity are vital tools in the struggle for a better world, and everyone has the potential to make a positive creative contribution.
- When we organise together, each of us is vulnerable to either consciously or unconsciously acting out oppressive behaviour towards others. We need to actively challenge oppression and prejudice within our group and within ourselves as well as in wider society.
- Working for positive social change takes effort, energy and emotional labour. Creating interventions based on performance, creativity, music, humour and honesty can help to refresh and recharge us, and reconnect ourselves and our audiences with the issues that matter on a deeper, more emotional level.
HOW WE AIM TO WORK TOGETHER
In order to uphold our values, we aim to work in the following ways (these are aspirations that we are constantly working towards, we know we have not yet succeeded at putting all of this fully into practice):
- To be intersectional in our approach – in other words, to be constantly aware of the links and the overlaps between different struggles and oppressions.
- To raise up the voices of directly affected people and communities in our performances.
- To constantly learn and challenge ourselves with regard to our own privilege as a group and as individuals.
- To challenge oppression both inside and outside of our organisation. We recognise that the same systems of domination, unearned privilege, exclusion and institutional violence underpin many different forms of oppression. We need to constantly check and challenge this in the aims and narratives of our actions, and in our engagement with people and other campaigns outside of our organisation.
- To be open, welcoming and accessible, and to not directly or indirectly exclude anyone for example because of ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexuality, age, income, ability or disability, appearance, immigration status, belief or non-belief, participation to date and experience. We have a Safer Spaces Agreement (see below) in order to begin to address some of these issues.
- Wherever possible to challenge oppression within our group in a compassionate way that in itself upholds the values above. Meeting the needs of the oppressed is always more important than sparing the feelings of the privileged, but we will aim to deal with any problems with as much care and sensitivity as we can.
- For our time together to be a fun and positive experience.
- To be collaborative in how we assign performance roles, and make it as easy as possible for new members to take on significant roles within performances.
- To avoid hierarchy as much as possible, and distribute power and decision-making as horizontally as we can within the group.
- To be a theatre group, not just an action group. To ensure creativity and performance is at the heart of all we do.
- To celebrate each others’ achievements and contributions, and acknowledge every member’s input.
- To be humble in the way we work, no matter our level of experience. There is always more to learn.
- To value and listen to marginalised voices within our group, and within other groups and communities we work with.
- To strike an active balance in our performances between aiming to end oil sponsorship deals, build public opposition to the fossil fuel industry, and provide a platform for frontline voices. Some performances will have more of a focus on one or another of these aims, but in any given year we will try to give decent time and effort to all three.
- To not be afraid of complexity, and to show the links between issues even if sometimes a performance would be simpler if it stuck to one idea or theme.
- To bring out different people’s talents and skills, and help all members of the group find the things they’re good at.
- Whilst at BP or not BP? (BonB) meetings, events and performances we agree to treat each other with respect, communicate clearly with each other, avoid aggressive behaviour of any kind and not use alcohol or drugs in a way that disconnects us or causes disruption.
- As well as promptly dealing with any major negative incidents if they arise within the group (e.g. theft, intimidation, harassment, aggression, unwanted sexual contact, the actions of informers and undercovers) we will be aware and responsive to the smaller, day-to-day ways that oppression can be enacted. This includes any form of language and behaviour that perpetuates oppression, however unintentionally: for example a racist or sexist joke, a disrespectful or ignorant comment, or interrupting someone on the basis of unspoken privilege. These “microaggressions” are the way that many people experience oppression on a daily basis, and making our spaces safer means working to identify and prevent these incidents.
- We also aim to create a general culture at our meetings, rehearsals and in our online organising, that is inclusive and welcoming to all, not just to the most vocal or dominant members of the group. This means avoiding the overuse of jargon, cultural references, in-jokes, ways of working etc. that are familiar and comfortable to some members of the group but not others. It also means ensuring more marginal voices in the group are listened to and given space and respect within our meetings.
- We endeavour to create a supportive space for survivors of physical violence and sexual violence.
- We commit to actively resisting oppression by:
- learning about anti-oppressive practices
- listening to the experiences of those facing oppression
- genuinely welcoming discussion on these issues
- where needed, changing our policies and practices to be more inclusive
- encouraging each other to challenge oppressive behaviours
6. We aim to be informed in this work by the perspective, and the reality of the trauma, that can be experienced by people dealing with oppression. We will work to understand how this trauma affects the way that people may respond to incidents within the group, and how they might or might not be willing to speak up about them.
7. Providing safe and welcoming spaces is everyone’s responsibility. We ask participants in our meetings, performances or events to challenge attitudes and behaviour in a way that is respectful and constructive whilst treating the needs of the oppressed, and our desire for a safe space, as paramount.
8. We will aim to make warm-ups and physical activities in our rehearsals and performances as inclusive as possible, and will always check out with each other who is and who isn’t able to take part. We will always make it clear that participation is optional, and that if people cannot/do not wish to take part for any reason it is absolutely fine to sit them out.
9. We recognise that our meetings and rehearsals are creative spaces where ideas are constantly and quickly generated, and that as part of the creative process people can throw out thoughts and ideas that – by their very nature – may not be well-considered or well-phrased. When people make mistakes, we need to acknowledge them and ensure that everyone in the room still feels safe and included. We will work hard to strike the right balance here, dealing thoughtfully and compassionately with all concerned to ensure that everyone feels safe in the space while creative ideas are still able to flow.
10. Some of our performances involve the participation of members of frontline communities directly affected by oil company activities. In such performances, the safety, dignity and fair representation of the frontline community members will always be our priority. These frontline participants will always be offered the final say on how such performances will work, what they will include and how they are presented to the public. All members of BonB will take active responsibility to ensure that this is the case, and that frontline participants feel safe, welcome, and respected.
11. When new people want to get more involved with the group (attending planning meetings, taking on more significant roles within performances) we will arrange a one-to-one “induction” chat with them to talk through how the group works, answer their questions, and to ask if they agree with our group values and are happy to sign up to the Safer Spaces agreement.
12. At any meeting or rehearsal that includes new members, we will relay a summary of our values and briefly explain this safer spaces agreement. We will also have copies of this agreement available, and have time for discussion if required. Our website will have this document on it and ask people planning to take part for the first time, to read it beforehand.
13. At all of our meetings, rehearsals and performances we will designate at least one “welcome and welfare” volunteer. This person or people will introduce themselves to the group so that any new members – or those who only come occasionally or might feel marginalised within the group for any other reason – have a clear, friendly point of contact for any questions or concerns. This volunteer will also stay alert to how everyone is participating throughout the meeting/performance with the aim of ensuring that all participants are comfortable, included and have everything they need.
14. For any performance action, we will ensure we have a system in place for quick decision-making on the day that all participants are made aware of, that is as inclusive as possible, has clear lines of accountability, and communicates those decisions to everybody. This could involve setting up semi-autonomous affinity groups, a system of spokes, or temporarily delegating certain emergency decision-making powers to one or two people within agreed boundaries.
Process for dealing with incidents, complaints and concerns
We have a detailed process for dealing with any concerns that are raised within the group relating to this Safer Spaces Agreement, and a Safer Spaces Working Group to help support this process. New members receive a copy of this process when they first get involved with the group.