The prestigious Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company announced on Wednesday 2 October that it was withdrawing aid from the BP oil group in the name of the "climate emergency". A movement that is making its mark all over the world.
BP's sponsorship enabled the RSC, a British theatre company based in Stratford-Upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace, to offer £5 (€5.60) tickets for young people aged 16-25 from 2013. « In a context of climate emergency, which we recognize, young people are now clearly telling us that BP's sponsorship is creating a barrier between them and their desire to get involved with CSR. We cannot ignore this message "said Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the CHR and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director of the CHR, in a news release.
They announce that they have taken the "difficult decision" to end their collaboration with BP at the end of 2019. The oil major said it was "disappointed" and dismayed "that the RSC has decided to end our partnership.
Recently, a youth organisation that had called school strikes to denounce inaction on climate change had written to the RSC criticising BP's sponsorship. « This means that if we, as young people, want to see a play in your theatre at an affordable price, we must help promote a business that is actively destroying our future by disrupting the climate. ", they wrote.
For months artists and environmental activists have been protesting against the links between BP or other oil companies and British cultural institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House or the British Museum. Last June, British comedian Mark Rylance announced that he was leaving the RSC to oppose BP's patronage.
The comedian explained that he didn't want " be associated with BP in the way that I would not wish to be associated with an arms dealer, a tobacco seller or anyone who deliberately destroys the lives of living and unborn people "
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Targeted for their impact on the environment, oil companies are becoming cumbersome patrons. « Society is now asking the legitimate question of the coherence of actions, and we expect the one who does good to be perfect. ", sums up in the daily newspaper The World Sylvaine Parriaux, General Delegate of Admical, an association for the development of patronage. The movement really started at the Tate Gallery in London. Several artists and personalities from the world of culture expressed their disapproval of the partnership between the BP company and the museum. Various happenings of artists were organized under the emblem "Liberate Tate" until, in 2016, the London institution broke its partnership with the multinational.
Last June, it was Total's turn to bear the brunt of this ban: the Paris City Council announced that it no longer wanted the company as a sponsor for the 2024 Olympic Games. In a letter addressed to the organising committee at the end of May, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, stated that "it is not possible to be a sponsor of the Olympic Games. it would be very difficult for our fellow citizens to understand why companies whose activities would have a heavy impact on the environment should be retained ".
Other institutions such as the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Palais de Tokyo, even though they are financed by the oil company Total, are still reluctant to break with the fortunes of black gold. It's true that the subject is complicated and that major institutions are bound by essential funding from patrons whose image smells of sulfur in public opinion.