By our ‘special correspondent’
As the price for continued financial support of Perth Fringe Festival, Woodside has obliged organisers and artists to self-censor and avoid any “act or omission” that might tarnish Woodside’s public image.
At the opening of this year’s Fringe Festival last Thursday evening, a group of Perth artists posed as ‘Woodside’s Enforcers’ to dramatise the gag orders that are part of Woodside’s sponsorship deal with the Festival.
The uniformed goons stopped and interrogated patrons on their way in, insisting that they refrain from discussing climate change and Woodside’s polluting projects.
The protest performance began as the doors opened for Fringe’s opening night, at the Woodside Pleasure Garden.
Later in the evening, the artists projected images of climate change onto a building near the venue, linking the images to Woodside’s role in wrecking the climate and demanding that Fringe World end their partnership with Woodside,
Performer and organiser Adam Bennett said that while they understood the arts were in need of funding, it was necessary to speak out about climate change.
“Woodside’s Burrup Hub will be the dirtiest project in Australian history. Its carbon emissions will be four times those projected for the Adani coal mine. The urgency and gravity of the climate crisis means no one can afford to stay silent on this.”
Perth’s Fringe World, which opened on 15 January, attracted criticism and protests in 2020 over its longstanding sponsorship by Woodside.
In December it was revealed that in a bid to head off disruption of next month’s event, Artrage have included in the festival’s main contract the stipulation that “the presenter and the venue operator must use its best endeavours to not do any act or omit to do any act that would prejudice any of Fringe World’s sponsorship arrangements”.
Included in Fringe World’s artists’ registration pack, the contract also states: “If you have an objection to a Fringe World sponsor, we ask that you consider whether participation in the festival is the right platform for your presentation.”