An open letter to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens from South Australia’s Arts Community


TO:      Susan Close, MP – Minister for Climate, Environment and Water
Michael Harvey – Director, Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Judy Potter – Chair, Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium
Friends of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Dear custodians of Adelaide Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Economic Botany,

As artists, writers, and workers in the arts and culture sector, we value the unique presence of the Museum of Economic Botany in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens. We appreciate the Museum for sharing knowledge about nature, craft, and history to inform and delight the public. We value its magnificent architecture and its heritage as the last museum of its kind in the world. We also value the work of the Museum in making space for contemporary art exhibitions, bringing artists into conversation with the collection and sharing our work with visitors to the Gardens.

As artists, writers, and workers in the arts and culture sector, we are deeply concerned about the climate emergency. We believe that Santos’ naming-rights sponsorship of the Museum of Economic Botany is inconsistent with the educational, curatorial, and cultural importance of the Museum, and at odds with the sustainability and conservation work of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Fossil fuel companies like Santos are major contributors to the emissions that cause global heating. These companies directly contribute to the climate emergency, but continue to derive social licence from sponsoring public events, sporting clubs, and the arts.

In its latest report, the Clean Energy Regulator names Santos as one of Australia’s ten highest greenhouse gas emitters. Despite the company’s claims to be reducing these emissions, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reports that over the past five years, Santos’s total emissions have risen by 94%.

In September 2022, the Federal Court dismissed Santos’ plans to drill the Barossa gas field due to inadequate consultation with traditional owners. The company is the subject of another case before the court, facing accusations of greenwashing and false reporting related to emissions reduction. Despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finding that any new oil and gas expansion will be incompatible with the 1.5 degree target set by the Paris agreement, Santos continues to expand its oil and gas production in Australia and elsewhere.

As a result of these concerns, Darwin Festival, Macquarie University and the Science Schools Foundation have all dropped sponsorship agreements with Santos in 2022, and Adelaide Zoo has terminated a previous arrangement with Santos for naming rights sponsorship of its Conservation Centre.

The Gardens plays an important role in the cultural life of South Australia, hosting events such as Light Cycles and Shakespeare plays, public panels and Fringe performances, bringing art and nature into dialogue. The Botanic Gardens is also directly impacted by rising temperatures and needs responsible stewardship to ensure its survival. The Botanic Gardens’ stated vision is of ‘a community inspired to actively contribute to the sustainability of our world.’ Santos sponsorship contradicts this vision.

In June 2022, South Australia became the first Australian state to declare a climate emergency. We are world leaders in renewable energy. We believe that South Australians can also show leadership by ending fossil fuel sponsorships and advertising in our state.

The arts community advocates for change through the work we make and the stories we share. Many of us have or are developing environmental impact policies. We cannot accept sponsorship arrangements that are so out of keeping with our values.

The Museum of Economic Botany is an important public museum and gallery, and we want it to remain free and open, to continue to welcome visitors to our state and to delight and inspire everyone long into the future.

We call on the Botanic Gardens to end the sponsorship agreement with Santos immediately and to develop a comprehensive policy to ensure that fossil fuel companies will never again benefit from an association with our beautiful Museum or any aspect of the Gardens.

We urge the South Australian government to divest from all sponsorship arrangements with fossil fuel companies.

Signed,

Sandy Ahmed, Art teacher/Artist
Kelly Albion, 350.org (VIC)
Jessica Alice, Writers SA
Ali Baker, First Nations Mirning artist and academic
Donald Barnes, Retired
Peter Barnes, Photographer
Gabrielle Bond, Sustainable Prosperity Action Group
Tom Borgas, Artist
Ben Brooker, Writer
Dr Andrew Buchanan, Supporter
Thom Buchanan, Artist
Elizabeth (Liz) Butler, Artist,  Laneway Print Studio
Ainoa Cabada, The University of Adelaide
Elaine Cain, Writer
Tarsha Cameron, Artist
Sarah Cartwright, Supporter
Will Cheesman, Artist
Alice Clanachan, Curator
Danielle Clode, Writer
Tracy Crisp, Writer and Performer
Polly Dance, Curator
Eileen Darley, Freelance performer
Steph Daughtry, Theatre
Melissa Lee Delaney, Aust Network for Art & Technology (ANAT)
Piri Eddy, Writer/Playwright
Marie Falcinella, Arts Administrator
Ian Fox, XRSA
Pauline Fox, Musician and teacher
Honor Freeman, Artist
Lauren Fuge, University of South Australia
Ian Gibbins, Video artist/Poet
Dan Grieve, DOTS: Democracy On The Streets
Dominic Guerrera, Poet/Writer
Trish Hammond, Supporter
Nicole Hanlon, Writer
Ray Harris, Artist
Stu Hay, 3D radio
Sophie Hayat, Supporter
Rachel Healy, Rachel Healy & Associates
Nix Herriot, Arts worker
Michael Hopkins, Writer
Beatrice Jeavons, Producer
Peter Jones, Performance
Hannah Kent, Novelist and screenwriter
Heidi Kenyon, Visual artist
Alex Kelly, Filmmaker (VIC)
Anthony Kelly, Documentary filmmaker (VIC)
Kate Larsen, Writer and Consultant
Karen Lever, Artist
Lina Limosani, Dancer/Choreographer
Becci Love, Adelaide Contemporary Experimental
Cassie Magin, Vitalstatistix
Sue McKinnon, Knitters & Stitchers
Cameron McVicar, Museums
Margaret Merrilees, Writer
Jennifer Mills, Author
Pete Monaghan, Writer
Caitlin Ellen Moore, Producer
Sharon Nathani, Arts and philanthropy researcher
Toby Nevill, Collage/street artist
Heath Nicholson, University of Tasmania (TAS)
Justin O’Connor, Professor of Cultural Economy,  UniSA
Kyle Opie, Musician
Monica O’Wheel, Stitchers and Knitters
Rosella Paletti, Artist
Judy Parham, Artist
Richard Parncutt, Centre for Systematic Musicology
Deborah Prior, Artist
Caroline Reid, Poet/Performer/Writer
Elliat Rich, Independent designer (NT)
Andrew Roff, Writer
Stef Rozitis, Writer
Lyn-K Saunders, Extinction Rebellion SA
Rebecca Selleck, Artist (ACT)
Samantha Sharplin, Filmmaker
Tony Shaw, Painter
Eva Sifis, By Accident
Melanie Smith, Editor
Beth Sometimes, Watch This Space (NT)
Lisa Stefanoff, Writer/Media producer (NT)
Marijana Tadic, Sculptor
Penny Tangey, Children’s author (WA)
Anne-Marie Te Whiu,Writer/Producer
Meme Thorne, Performer
Lara Tilbrook, Artist & Designer
Kasia Tons, Textile artist
Datsun Tran, Artist
Irene Tsimiklis, Florist
Hen Vaughan, Writer/Artist
Tricia Walton, Arts Manager
Vivien Warwick, Red Rebels of South Australia
Sera Waters, Artist
Richard Watts, Writer (VIC)
Emma Webb, Director, Vitalstatistix
Jessica White, University of South Australia
Rosemary Whitehead, Visual artist
Samuel Whiting, UniSA Creative
Sean Williams, Author & Flinders University
Laura Wills, Visual Artist
Jo Wilmot, Artist and curator
Marc Wilson, Photography
Damien Wise, Writer
Matthew Wright-Simon, Engage Change
Ella York, Independent creative
Damon Young, Author (TAS)

To add your name to this letter, you can use the form here

Editorial team

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