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The Roundhouse, London.
The Roundhouse, London.

Performance Venue in London Refuses $1.3 Million Grant from Sackler Trust

The trustees of the Roundhouse, a performing arts and concert venue in London, refused to accept a $1.3 million grant from the Sackler Trust last month because of the ongoing controversy over the Sackler family’s role in the opioid crisis, the Art Newspaper reports. “We are enormously grateful for the trust’s support over the years, but we have made a decision not to accept the donation at this time,” a Roundhouse spokesperson said. “To do so risks distracting from our work with young people, and that’s our priority.”

The money was awarded as part of a grant cycle that was announced before the Sackler Trust, which has given millions to support arts, science, and education in the UK, revealed that it would suspend all grantmaking in March due to the “current press attention” related to the thousands of lawsuits that have been filed against the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. The manufacturer of OxyContin is being sued by counties, cities, states, and tribal nations in the United States over its aggressive marketing of the painkiller.

The Roundhouse is one of many institutions, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Tate, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that have turned down donations from the Sacklers as protests against the family escalated. Among the main activists who have led the campaign to hold the Sacklers accountable is photographer Nan Goldin, who formed the group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (P.A.I.N.). Goldin organized numerous protests at cultural institutions and universities across the US that have benefited from the Sacklers’ philanthropy.

Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers have consistently denied any wrongdoing and are currently in the process of trying to settle thousands of cases in a controversial deal that is valued at between $10 billion and $12 billion. Twenty-five states oppose the deal, which would involve the Sacklers selling their European company Mundipharma and contributing $3 billion to the settlement. It also stipulates the reorganization of Purdue, which would continue to sell OxyContin but would share the profits with the plaintiffs who are suing the company.

According to the New York Times, the pharmaceutical giant was given a break on October 11, when a judge in a United States bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York, ordered that all litigation against the Sacklers be paused until November 6.