Towards a Fossil Free Culture

Towards a Fossil Free Culture

Friday, May 1, 2020
3-4:30pm CDT

with Imani Brown (New Orleans, LA), Bryan Parras (Houston, TX), Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Ph.D. (Denton, TX), Regina Agu (Chicago, IL)

Organized by Bob Snead (New Orleans, LA)

In an era of massive defunding of the public sector, non-profit arts and educational institutions are struggling. Oftentimes, our search for support for our work leads us to accept funding from sources we may consider contentious, such as oil and gas or petrochemical corporations. We accept this money with some discomfort but without hesitation. According to BP Executive Vice President Dev Sanyal, companies cannot operate “sustainably” without the support of society. This support is termed by the industry as a “social license to operate,” a metaphorical concept that indicates that society has sanctioned the actions of the company, trusting that the benefits of its operations outweigh the costs to society. By accepting the financial support and, as an imperative, the branding of fossil fuel corporations, are we granting these companies a social license to operate?

In 2018, Antenna, a New Orleans-based arts incubator, hosted the first Fossil Free Fest (FFF), a week-long program of art, films, food, music, and conversations about the ethics and complexities of funding public cultural, educational, and scientific institutions with fossil fuel philanthropy. Join us for a panel discussion moderated by Antenna's Imani Brown with Houston local Bryan Parras (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), Regina Agu (Alabama Song), and Priscilla Ybarra (Associate Professor, Department of English, University of North Texas) that envisions a Gulf Coast-wide fossil free culture. We want to create a framework for honest conversations about the role of philanthropy in the age of climate change and spark a regional movement calling for civic institutions to work towards being both fiscally and environmentally sustainable. Our discussion will include topics such as The Rights of Nature, Reparations/Restorations and The Green New Deal in order to drive wider discourses on climate change and climate (in)justice.