The RSC is severing its sponsorship ties with BP at the end of the year having faced intense pressure to terminate its association with the oil giant.
BP have supported the RSC’s £5 ticket scheme for 16 – 25-year olds since 2013.
Explaining the decision, Gregory Doran RSC Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, said: “Over many months we have listened to a wide and varied range of voices and opinions about our partnership with BP and their support of our £5 ticket scheme for 16 – 25-year olds. This careful and often difficult debate with, amongst others, our Board, staff, our audiences and artists, has highlighted the strength of feeling, especially amongst young people who we would like to benefit from the scheme.
“Central to our organisational values, is that we listen to and respond to the views of young people. Each year we actively engage 500,000 children and young people with Shakespeare’s plays. We have our nationwide Associate Schools programme, over 500 young Shakespeare Ambassadors across the country and we launched our first Youth Advisory Board earlier this year. In 2018 we conducted powerful research that analysed 6,000 responses from young people, that told us that arts and cultural subjects in schools matter to them. We called the report Time To Listen.
“Amidst the climate emergency, which we recognise, young people are now saying clearly to us that the BP sponsorship is putting a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC. We cannot ignore that message.
“It is with all of this in mind that we have taken the difficult decision to conclude our partnership with BP at the end of this year. There are many fine balances and complex issues involved and the decision has not been taken lightly or swiftly.
“We would like to thank BP for their generous support of the RSC since 2011. We have issued 80,000 tickets to young people who have been able to experience our work through the BP sponsored scheme.
“We are committed to sharing our work with the widest possible audience, and the £5 ticket scheme for 16 – 25-year olds remains a priority.”
Just last month hundreds of Stratford schoolchildren joined a climate strike in the town, which concluded with a mass demonstration outside the RSC Theatre calling for an end to the BP sponsorship agreement.
Climate activists argue that allowing BP to associate itself with arts organisations like the RSC, lends it the social legitimacy to continue mass producing fossil fuels.