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Royal Shakespeare Company ends BP sponsorship

THE Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is ending its sponsorship by BP following pressure from school climate strikers.

The RSC's £5 ticket scheme for 16 to 25-year-olds had been supported by the oil giant since 2013.

However, pupils involved in the climate strikes threatened to boycott the British cultural institution over its “sickening” links to BP.

In a letter to the RSC, the students said: “BP’s influence is nothing but a stain on the RSC.

“If we, as young people, wish to see an affordable play at your theatre, we have to help to promote a company that is actively destroying our futures by wrecking the climate.

“BP is jeopardising the futures of these young people they apparently care so much about.

“It is sickening that the works of Shakespeare are being associated with these events.”

Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance, an associate artist with the RSC for 30 years, cut his link with the theatre company in the summer over the issue.

A joint statement by RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “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.”

BP said it was “disappointed and dismayed that the RSC has decided to end our partnership early.”

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