The Institute Gives Back — Written by Cortney Lane Stell
We understand that the Institute is donating 50% of the Avalanche water sales to a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to this decision and what it means to you?
In the last few weeks of production, the air around this project has thickened with the weight of climate change. It’s hard not to read Avalanche’s critique of capitalism and feedback loop of ecological disaster—or to watch the weary faces of drenched performers braving a man-made storm—without thinking of the grief and destruction that’s happening down south and around the world.
As artists often funded by cultural organizations and foundations, we are accustomed to asking the question: where does the money come from? We’re interested in the philanthropic gesture as corporate PR / posturing and as a way of affecting real change. As humans, we feel deeply committed to the possibility of helping people in need through this fund. As the Institute, we acknowledge the contradictions of the “charitable donation” as a residual effect of a for-profit endeavor, the ways in which it can become a marketing strategy for a consumer product. Our interest here is not to solve an environmental problem but to begin to unpack the complexities and contradictions that entangle it.
*Global Giving is the largest crowdfunding organization and their vetted Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is being used to provide shelter, water, food, diapers, foster care for pets, free fuel, and other services to hurricane victims. An organization that rates the quality of charities, Charity Navigator, rated Global Giving a 96 out of 100 in financial health, transparency, and accountability.