The Shell Out Sounds Choir in action

At the launch of the 2014/15 Southbank Centre Classic Season, Shell was conspicuously absent, after having sponsored the season for a number of years. The artistic director, Jude Kelly, announced the new classical music season on last night, with the ‘Shell Classic International’ concerts now replaced with an ‘International Orchestra Series’. The change comes after a period of heightened campaigning, with the Shell Out Sounds protest choir, open letters from concerned artists and performers, and comment from public figures appearing at the Southbank, all adding pressure.

If the Southbank Centre is dropping Shell as a sponsor, it will be positioning itself as ahead of the game in terms of ethics and sustainability. Oil company money, made from trashing the climate and trampling over communities and ecosystems, is an unpleasant stain on the UK cultural sector.

In a press release, Chris Garrard from the Shell Out Sounds choir said:

‘In a recent interview with the New Statesman, Jude Kelly admitted that climate change was her greatest concern for the future, a public comment that would have been difficult to make while collaborating with a company responsible for over 2% of historic carbon emissions. In our performances, we have demonstrated that art-making does not need big oil and that cultural sponsorship should not exist to hide injustice – we are thrilled that the Southbank agree.’

You can also see a timeline of events and activities that have lead up to this point below.