Press Releases

CalArts Divests from Fossil Fuel Investments

CalArts Divests from Fossil Fuel Investments
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Photo: Scott Groller

Renowned college of the arts transfers $14 million to BlackRock Developed ex-Fossil Fuel Fund. 

Institute joins growing number of educational institutions and cities around the world in a movement to divest from fossil fuel investments.

December 15, Valencia, CA—In the wake of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Paris, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) announces its initiatives to reduce investments in fossil fuel companies and to promote on-campus strategies for reducing dependence on fossil fuels. 

Ranked as America's top college for students in the arts by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, CalArts has approved the redemption of $14 million from existing equity fund investments and the transfer of these funds to the BlackRock Developed ex-Fossil Fuel Fund— a global equity index fund that excludes companies whose primary business is to explore, own, and exploit carbon reserves.  As a result of these actions, the Institute's exposure to fossil fueled stocks in its investment pool will decrease from 2.6% to 1.3%.

“We want our students to graduate as citizen-artists who take responsibility for addressing the serious issues that face us and our world,” said CalArts President Steven Lavine. “Our trustees feel the same responsibility. The Investment Subcommittee of the Board of Trustees struggled for many months to meet its responsibility to maximize the return on our endowment for the benefit of students, faculty and staff—while at the same time addressing our community’s concerns about the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels—until we found a way forward with our fossil fuel reduction plan." 

CalArts’ transfer of funds to the BlackRock Developed ex-Fossil Fuel Fund is the latest step in a long-term plan initiated in December 2014 which called for the:

  • Immediate reduction of Institute investments in fossil fuel stocks by 25% by re-allocating approximately $3.6 million of funds with the most significant exposure to fossil fuels;
  • Continued commitment to not make direct investments in fossil fuel companies;
  • Active monitoring of the Institute’s remaining carbon exposure and consideration of strategies that will continue to reduce CalArts’s investments in fossil fuel companies, including seeking to eliminate exposure to the most carbon-intensive companies such as coal producers over the next five years;
  • Annual review of the status of fund managers who maintain higher than average exposures to fossil fuel companies in their investment funds; 
  • Revision of the Institute’s Investment Policy Statement to reflect environmental, social, and governance factors; and
  • Implementation of campus initiatives to reduce operational dependence on fossil fuels and to promote sustainability in all areas of the Institute’s operations.

The Institute joins a growing number of colleges and universities committed to reducing investment in fossil fuels, including Stanford UniversitySan Francisco State University and the University of Glasgow in Scotland—and echoes the commitment of such cities around the globe as Oslo, Norway, Melbourne, Australia and San Francisco, California. For more information, read the recent National Geographic article on how the grassroots movement against fossil fuels is spreading beyond colleges to cities around the world. 

“CalArts has a responsibility to promote sustainability for our planet and we embrace our leadership role in the national conversation regarding climate change,” said CalArts’ Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Don Matthewson. “In working to align our endowment investments with our mission and values, we hope that the approach CalArts has adopted to guide our divestment from fossil fuels will be of interest to other colleges and universities and we will continue be actively engaged in learning from others.”  

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.