The Bearpit continues its role in providing a platform for the people of Bristol to engage through art in important current issues.
Since August the Bearpit has played host to four giant billboards designed to further raise awareness of the damaging implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The Stop TTIP billboards on the cube replace the “System Change not Climate Change” boards. The climate billboards were key to the Bearpit and PRSC promotion of the Peoples Green Fringe Festival, which also populated the tunnel art work by local artists in celebration of the year of the EU Green Capital in Bristol. The TTIP boards are a continuation highlighting the connection between Big Business and global warming.
The boards are a Greater Bristol Alliance initiative, supported by BIG, 38 Degrees and PRSC. It was co-ordinated by new BIG board member and PRSC volunteer Sue Kilroe with links to 38 Degrees, Stop TTIP campaign, Bristol Climate Marchers. The artwork focuses on the pro corporate and environmental damage implications of TTIP. It is the result of collaboration between local artists 5ft5, Georgie, Deams, Lingoliz and Rowan@38D.
Sue explains; “TTIP is a bilateral trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the European Union and the USA with the strong support of trans-national global corporations. There is escalating concern that it will have a far reaching detrimental effect across a number of areas, including the environment and climate change. The link with TTIP is that, through an anti-democratic legal framework (ISDS) it will encourage large corporations to sue national governments. Investor compensation cases will follow if sovereign law or local government policy, whilst in the interests of the people or the environment, may reduce the corporations current or potential future profits. The tribunals that will hear these Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) cases will be outside all EU USA legal and democratic systems with no right of appeal. This will make privatisation of public service, for example the NHS, virtually irreversible and blocking of mining or fracking licences unaffordable.”
One of the billboards quotes a chilling warning from the International Energy Agency: “If we don’t get our emissions under control by 2017, our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock in’ extremely dangerous global warming.” The concern is that TTIP, through transfer of power to corporates, will make it totally unaffordable for the EU and its member states to legislate to bring emissions under control. The outcome would be hugely increased likelihood of catastrophic climate change.
The Bearpit billboards provide a great focus for leafleting campaigns. Since August, Bristol “Stop TTIP’ers” have been out raising awareness and gathering signatures for a Europe-wide petition. On Tuesday 13 October, in the Bearpit, Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire, was presented with a completed petition with 3,279,792 signatures on board.
Keep an eye out for the next artwork in the Bearpit, or to get involved please contact the Bear Pit Improvement Group. If you are interested in the campaign to raise awareness of and oppose TTIP, please contact Sue Kilroe (firstname.lastname@example.org).