Industry News

Actors protest RSC’s BP partnership by backing Fossil Free ticket scheme

Spiderman actor Andrew Garfield is among 30 theatre performers to support the Fossil Free £5 ticket scheme which has been launched as a response to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) arts sponsorship from BP.

The new scheme is looking to provide an “unofficial, ethical alternative” to the RSC’s £5 ticket programme, which is sponsored by the British multinational oil and gas company.

RSC signed an extension deal with BP last year for an additional five years to ensure it could continue its £5 ticket scheme. The Stage website reported that at the time, the RSC said that the money it received from corporate sponsors was an important part of its “diverse funding mix.”

The Fossil Free programme, which was launched today (Wednesday), will be crowdfunded and was set up by Culture Unstained, a new campaign organisation and part of the Art Not Oil coalition. It will offer 16 to 25-year-olds £5 tickets to RSC shows, although it has not been endorsed by the theatre group.

Using the money raised through crowdfunding, tickets will be bought at full price from the RSC and resold for a donation of £5.

The scheme is aiming to “show the RSC the strength of feeling from its own community – and the young people it wants to engage with – against BP sponsorship.”

The Fossil Free ticket scheme is being launched during the first week of the RSC’s production of Myth, directed by Kirsty Hously.

She said: “I’ve now twice been in a situation where I’ve been making a piece of work and found myself doing it in organisations that are sponsored by BP. By putting their brand on arts organisations that people rightfully love and care deeply about, BP are buying a level of social acceptability that they simply shouldn’t have at this stage in the game.”

Others supporting the scheme include Emma Thompson, Mark Rylance, Vanessa Redgrave, Tamsin Greig, Caryl Churchill, Max Stafford-Clark, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Maxine Peake and Simon McBurney.

According to The Stage website, Thompson said: “I’ve seen first hand the effects climate change is already having on our planet – and the need to transition away from fossil fuels couldn’t be more urgent. Things are moving really fast in the world of renewable energy, so it saddens me to see some arts organisations lagging behind.”

RSC’s executive director, Catherine Mallyon said: “We support people’s right to protest. None of our sponsors drive our artistic decision making, and we remain committed to exploring contemporary issues and ideas in all our work, including Kirsty Housley’s current play Myth, which explores climate change.

“We will honour any tickets which are valid and have not been resold for profit or commercial gain.”

Image: MylesMc