Tribute to Nick Reeves, CIWEM – artist, environmentalist, activist

1 Oct 2013 jane

pennwell.web.450.379BP, Shell and all other petrochemical corporations must be denied control of our arts and cultural institutions, right now.” Nick Reeves

Earlier in the summer, we heard the shocking news that Nick Reeves, the vigorous Executive Director of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Managers, died after a severe stroke. He was only 60. CIWEM is an international institution that represents 1000s of people and companies working in the environmental sector, and Nick was the dynamo leading them in their integrated approach between environment, social issues, and culture.

How can the UK’s most revered arts establishments continue to collaborate with the perpetrators of catastrophes that leave legacies of incalculable environmental, social and economic damage?”

Platform had long respected Nick’s politics and activism. He showed bold leadership in steering CIWEM,  particularly from our perspective, regarding oil sponsorship of the arts. Nick started life in the arts, and he brought his passion for this to CIWEM which led to the founding of their Arts & Environment Network in 2009.

In 2010, after the devastation of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, Nick and CIWEM became powerful allies in the campaign to drive a wedge between oil companies’ sponsorship and arts organisations.

CIWEM's magazine 'The Environment', Sept 2013, featuring obituary to Nick and 2 articles by Platform.
CIWEM’s magazine ‘The Environment’, Sept 2013, featuring obituary to Nick and 2 articles by Platform.

“The present oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is but one disaster endemic of the carbon industries that perpetuate a culture of mendacity, greed and destruction backed by generations of craven politicians.”

This was true innovation for an eclectic membership comprising major engineering and water companies, environmental consultancies, government agencies, through to the RSPB and small-scale charities.

“Crimes against the environment are crimes against humanity. Therefore CIWEM, led by the Institution’s Arts and Environment Network, deplores the continuing acceptance of guilt monies and influence from the petro-carbon industries.”

As you can see from these quotes, Nick had a skill for the counterblast, and took no prisoners in his many letters to the press, and to Tate.  Support from CIWEM makes a big impact. We salute his vision, and applaud his strident calls for justice and environmental standards. We support CIWEM in the tough task of finding a director of equal vision, humanity and imagination.

“News that BP has accepted a record-beating criminal fine of $4.5 billion for the ecological disaster it caused in the Gulf of Mexico, and that some of the company’s staff may face manslaughter charges, begs the following question: will the panjandrums of the UK’s arts and sports institutions now cancel their sponsorship deals with the oil company? If not, what will it take to get them to do so?”

We send our sincerest condolences to his family and colleagues in their bereavement.

In June, Platform was honoured with CIWEM’s AWEinspiring Award 2013. You can read below the two articles by Platform in CIWEM’s ‘The Environment’ magazine below. The first (download pdf) is on 30 years of Platform; second (download pdf) is on oil  sponsorship of the arts.

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