Royal Shakespeare Company ends BP partnership after student protest

The Royal Shakespeare Company is to end its partnership with BP at the end of the year following criticism of its links to the international oil giant.

The RSC said it could not ignore the strength of feeling against the deal.

Last week, school students threatened to boycott the theatre company if it did not sever links with the firm.

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, it said.

BP has subsidised the Stratford-upon-Avon-based theatre company’s £5 ticket scheme for 16 to 25-year-olds.

Gregory Doran and Catherine Mallyon, the theatre company’s artistic and executive directors, said the difficult decision had not been taken lightly or swiftly.

We would like to thank BP for their generous support of the RSC since 2011, they said.

In a statement, BP said it was “disappointed and dismayed” its partnership had been brought to a premature end.

Over the past eight years our sponsorship has enabled 80,000 young people to see RSC performances at reduced rates, it continued.

The company said it shared many of the concerns that apparently contributed to the decision and was committed to making energy cleaner and better.

The increasing polarisation of debate, and attempts to exclude companies committed to making real progress, is exactly what is not needed,” it continued.

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