Fracking Protests Reach into Chamber Orchestra in Colorado

by Duane Nichols on May 7, 2017

Protest flyer on floor in Boulder, CO

Anti-fracking group protests Boulder orchestra over oil company donations

From an Article by John Bear, Boulder Daily Camera, May 5, 2017

A flier from protesters is pictured on the floor during a performance Friday at the Macky Auditorium on the Univerisity of Colorado campus in Boulder.

Boulder Chamber Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Friday evening with tickets available free to students from Boulder Valley, St. Vrain Valley and Jefferson County school districts.

However, East Boulder County United, an anti-fracking group, is taking issue with the orchestra taking donations from Extraction Oil and Gas protested prior to the performance at Macky Auditorium on Friday night.

“We are concerned citizens and we are doing this for the protection of our families,” EBCU member Kristin McLean said. “We aren’t doing this to be disruptive, but to bring awareness that Boulder County is about to be fracked because as of May 1, it’s legal.”

Boulder County had a series of consecutive moratoriums in place since February 2012 against accepting and processing new applications for oil and gas development in unincorporated parts of the county. The latest one ended at the conclusion of the workday on Monday.

A representative from the Boulder Chamber Orchestra declined to comment, but the board of directors provided the Daily Camera with a statement on Friday, saying that organizations like it rely on donations from individuals and corporations because of cuts to arts funding during the past several decades.

The statement went on to say that donations it received for the Beethoven symphony will go to providing free tickets to public school students.

“We understand corporate donations may present difficult and controversial issues,” the statement continued. “But we viewed the acceptance of funds as way of ensuring that some good can come from otherwise divisive issues surrounding corporate stewardship.”

McLean said seven activists blew whistles inside the auditorium and distributed information regarding the dangers of fracking — both vocally and by flier. She said the activists bought $562 of tickets, a statement that could not be immediately confirmed with Boulder Chamber Orchestra on Friday night.

She said that the group did not disrupt the performance, but the whistle-blowing prompted a response from University of Colorado police, who stayed through the second movement of the symphony.

EBCU earlier this week posted a message on its Facebook page calling on people to make their misgivings known with regard to the orchestra accepting money from an oil company. The orchestra’s Facebook page has multiple comments to that effect posted on it.

Extraction Oil and Gas spokesman Brian Cain said it was unfortunate that the orchestra was being criticized for taking money from his company.

He said his company has a “broad and very comprehensive corporate giving program.

“It is unfortunate that a group of individuals would try to for political reasons, or their own political stance, try to block an orchestra playing for high school students,” he said. “Supporting the organizations that make up the fabric of our community is where we should all find common ground.”

A portion of the ticket proceeds from Friday night’s performance go to the American Civil Liberties Union, Emergency Family Assistance Association and Out Boulder County.

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