Part II: Rally at Thailand's National Art Gallery
1/ DECADE OF PROTEST: TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES DECRY TOBACCO SPONSORSHOP OF ART AWARDS
Ever since Philip Morris established the ASEAN Art Awards, tobacco control groups in South East Asia have been opposing the companys sponsorship of it. Many campaigns have focused on discouraging prominent organizations and officials from co-sponsoring or otherwise supporting the awards. In 1994, for example, Thai tobacco control advocates launched a successful campaign to get Silkaporn University to withdraw its sponsorship of the Awards. Also in 1994, hundreds of delegates to the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Paris signed a letter to the Singapore Prime Minister urging him not to support the Awards. And in 1996, the theme of World No Tobacco Day was Sports and Arts Without Tobacco.
The specific purposes of this years events was to: 1) Discourage prominent government officials from attending ASEAN Art Awards event and legitimizing Philip Morris sponsorship of it. 2) Disrupt Philip Morris public relations objectives by generating controversy over the companys involvement in the arts.
2/ EVENT #1: TRAINING EDUCATES YOUTH ABOUT ASEAN ART AWARDS & BUILDS ADVOCACY SKILLS
Thai and U.S. youth participated in a 2-day advocacy training leading up to the ASEAN Art Awards events. Here are a few photos from the training:
Hatai Chitanondh of the Thai Health Promotion Institute gives some historical
background on Philip Morris sponsorship of the ASEAN Art Awards
photos of the youth training are available at:
3/ EVENT #2: RALLY AT NATIONAL ART GALLERY
2, Philip Morris sponsored a reception for the South East Asian finalists,
company employees, and journalists at the National Art Gallery in Bangkok.
The outside of the Gallery was festooned with signs and banners advertising
the ASEAN Art Awards, prominently featuring the logos of the Ministry
of Culture and ASEAN and noting Philip Morris as the sponsor. Photos:
The rally participants all wore t-shirts with a skull and cross bones and the text How Are Art and Death Related? on the front and on the back:
wore Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards Pack of Lies signs. Photos:
Art of $elling Death sign is held in front of an ASEAN Art Awards
billboard at the entrance to the Gallery
If they stood
in a particular place, the rally participants could view the reception
attendees mingling in the Gallery courtyard and the reception attendees
could see us. Chris Blitz of Reality Check (NY-US) holds up a Pack
of Lies sign for the viewing pleasure of those inside. Photos: 1,
not only sponsors artists, it kills them. At one point during the rally,
a Malaysian artist being honored added some deadly irony to the rally
when he came outside to smoke a Marlboro cigarette. He was wary of having
his photo taken, but
two of his artist friends praised the rally and posed with the skull and
cross bone t-shirts.
Indeed, not all artists are in with the company. A little while later, a Thai artist passing by told us of a street theatre against Philip Morris involvement in the Arts that several Thai artists would be performing at a nearby park later that weekend.
It was rumored that Thailands Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra himself would be attending the reception exactly the sort of prominent official that Philip Morris seeks to influence. A few days before the reception, a letter was forwarded to the Prime Minister inviting him to pay a visit to the youth who would be standing outside the Gallery during the event. In the end, the Prime Minister chose to avoid any controversy by staying away from the event altogether.
of the rally may be viewed at: