Climate protesters are once again calling on the RSC to sever its ties with BP, following a demonstration in London this week.
Extinction Rebellion, the group behind high profile protests in the capital earlier this year, demonstrated at the Royal Opera House screening of Romeo and Juliet in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday.
The Royal Opera House screening was targeted because it was sponsored by BP, but the group is also calling out the RSC for its involvement with the company.
Extinction Rebellion argue that allowing BP to sponsor respected arts organisations like the RSC, lends social legitimacy to the company.
They claim this allows BP to continue unethical practices unchecked, saying plans by the company to spend $70bn on new gas and oil exploration in the next decade, demonstrate this.
George Deacon, from Extinction Rebellion, said: “‘There’s a real depth of feeling erupting about this now: it is just not right that BP are so directly responsible for the climate crisis yet their branding gets emblazoned all over a cultural treasure in the heart of London as if they were something to celebrate.”
In 2017 climate activists from the theatre troupe BP or not BP invaded the stage at the RSC ahead of a performance of Anthony and Cleopatra in a peaceful protest, while last year 70 members of the group took to the streets to protest outside RSC venues.
Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director, said: “BP’s sponsorship of our £5 ticket scheme for 16-25 year olds gives many young people the chance to see our work. The scheme is highly valued by our audiences and helps us establish lifetime enthusiasts for Shakespeare and live theatre. Corporate sponsorship is an important part of our funding, alongside ticket sales, public investment, private philanthropy and commercial activity.
“We have a clear donation and sponsorship acceptance policy, and consider potential offers of support individually. We recognise the importance of a robust and engaged debate in taking these decisions and believe in people’s right to protest peacefully, and in everyone’s right to free speech.
“Importantly, no sponsor influences or drives our artistic decision making and we remain committed to exploring contemporary issues and ideas in all our work. Our donation and sponsorship acceptance policy can be viewed at www.rsc.org.uk/legal/donation-and-sponsorship-acceptance-policy.”