Royal Shakespeare Company to conclude partnership with BP

Royal Shakespeare Company to conclude partnership with BP
Published: 3 October 2019 - 3 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced its decision to conclude its partnership with BP at the end of this year. BP have supported the RSC’s £5 ticket scheme for 16-25-year olds since 2013.

Talking about 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,” concluded Doran and Mallyo.

In response, BP issued the following press statement: “We are disappointed and dismayed that the RSC has decided to end our partnership early.”

We are disappointed that this will bring a successful programme to a premature end. Over the past eight years, our sponsorship has enabled 80,000 young people to see RSC performances at reduced rates. Our support for the arts more broadly in the UK has provided access to world-class events to millions of people over more than 50 years. This is all part of our commitment to giving back to the communities where we live and work.”

“We are dismayed because we share many of the concerns that apparently contributed to the decision. We recognise the world is on an unsustainable path and needs to transition rapidly to net-zero in the coming decades. The debate centres around how to deliver this whilst meeting the world’s growing energy demands. BP is focused on this dual challenge; we are in action, have ambitious plans for the future and welcome engagement with all about how to make the energy we produce cleaner and better.”

“Ironically, the increasing polarisation of debate, and attempts to exclude companies committed to making real progress, is exactly what is not needed. This global challenge needs everyone – companies, governments and individuals – to work together to achieve a low carbon future,” concluded BP’s response.

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