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BP sponsorship of the Royal Opera House ends after 33 years | royal opera


Campaigners have hailed a “seismic shift” in arts funding after the Royal Opera House confirmed it had severed its sponsorship relationship with BP after more than three decades.

The multinational oil and gas company has been a sponsor of ROH since 1988, most recently under a five-year deal that began in 2018. However, in a statement on Wednesday, the opera said there had had an “agreement” that the funding would not be renewed.

“We are grateful to BP for its 33-year sponsorship which has enabled thousands of people across the country to see opera and ballet on our big BP screens for free,” a spokesperson said.

They said the two parties had “agreed that the partnership would not extend beyond December 22, when BP’s contract ended”.

The ROH decision will put further pressure on the British Museum, which is now one of the last major arts institutions to still receive funding from the energy company. The museum’s current Hieroglyphics exhibition, which is the last under its five-year funding deal with BP, ends on February 19, and it has so far declined to say whether it plans to renew.

The Science Museum, too, has stuck stubbornly with its fossil fuel sponsors Shell and Adani despite longstanding protests. The two museums are now increasingly isolated.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Portrait Gallery have severed ties with BP in recent years after decades of sponsorship, joining the BFI, National Theatre, National Gallery and Tate Galleries, among others, in rejecting sponsorship from the companies oil companies. Explaining the RSC’s decision in 2019, company executives said: “In the midst of the climate emergency, which we recognise, young people are now telling us clearly that BP’s sponsorship puts a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC. We cannot ignore this message.

Chris Garrard, composer and director of campaign group Culture Unstained, said: “What we are seeing is a seismic shift, a near total rejection in all art of the BP brand and the business that is destroying the climate that it represents. By lifting the curtain on fossil fuel funding, the Royal Opera House can now play a leading role in creating the culture beyond oil that we so urgently need.

The move was also welcomed by Mark Padmore, a tenor who performed at ROH. He said: “We in the cultural sector need to ask tough questions and encourage better practice. We must put sustainability, equity, inclusiveness and generosity at the heart of everything we do. I welcome the decision to end sponsorship of the Royal Opera House by fossil fuel companies. »

BP’s loss of funding to ROH follows a 9% cut to its Arts Council England core grant, which the institution says would contribute to “significant financial challenges in the future, alongside our colleagues in the sector”. However, Culture Unstained said that based on its accounts, BP’s sponsorship represents less than 0.5% of ROH’s annual revenue, “and although ROH is BP’s ‘longest-serving artistic partner’, his sponsorship payment would not have covered ROH’s combined general manager and music director salaries.

BP said: “We are proud to have supported the Royal Opera House for over three decades. During this time, BP Big Screens has provided free world-class opera and ballet performances to thousands of people across the UK, and more recently we have supported some of the company’s sustainability initiatives. ROH. As our partnership agreement came to an end at the end of last year, we wish the Royal Opera House every success for the future.

theguardian Gt

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