Royal Opera House cuts ties with BP after pressure from activists

The Magic Flute performed at the Royal Opera HouseAigul Khismatullina as The Queen of the Night©Alastair Muir - Alastair Muir/amx

The Magic Flute performed at the Royal Opera HouseAigul Khismatullina as The Queen of the Night©Alastair Muir – Alastair Muir/amx

The Royal Opera House has been forced to end its sponsorship deal with BP after more than three decades of pressure from climate activists.

The oil giant has sponsored the Royal Opera House (ROH), based in London’s Covent Garden, since 1988.

However, the organization said the contract was not renewed beyond December 2022, when its last contract expired.

A ROH spokesperson said: “We are grateful to BP for their 33-year sponsorship, which has allowed thousands across the country to watch opera and ballet on our BP big screens for free.

“Over the past three years, BP’s support has focused on sustainability initiatives, supporting the Royal Opera House’s post-pandemic recovery and supporting our move to net zero.

“We would like to thank BP for their support, but we have agreed that the partnership will not last beyond December 2022, when BP’s contract ended.”

ROH is the latest arts and cultural institution to break its partnership with BP, following in the footsteps of the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Gallery and Scottish Ballet.

The BFI, National Gallery and National Theater also rejected sponsorship from the oil and gas industry.

ROH’s decision will put more pressure on the British Museum, which is nearing the end of its five-year contract with BP. It is not yet known whether he will extend his contract.

The Science Museum also refused to end its cooperation with Shell, despite prolonged protests.

ROH’s decision is a victory for environmental activists who have been calling for years for the institution, which dates back to 1732, to break with the fossil fuel industry.

In 2019, more than 200 songwriters and musicians wrote to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, urging him to block BP branding from ROH outdoor shows, while Extinction Rebellion protesters staged a “death” at one of the shows.

Chris Garrard, composer and head of the Culture Unstained campaign group, said: “What we are witnessing is a seismic shift, an almost wholesale rejection of the art of the BP brand and the damaging business climate it represents.

“By lowering 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.”

A BP spokesperson said: “We are proud to have supported the Royal Opera House for more than 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 we have recently supported some of ROH’s sustainability initiatives.

“As our partnership came to an end at the end of last year, we wish the Royal Opera every success for the future.”

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