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Royal Opera House confirms end of 33-year BP sponsorship deal

The controversial contract ended last month

Royal Opera House
© Luke Hayes

The Royal Opera House has confirmed that, after a 33-year partnership, the company's sponsorship by BP has ended.

The revelation emerged yesterday during a climate change event where an audience member posed a question about the sponsorship status. The venue responded that they are "no longer in receipt of BP money" and later confirmed to The Guardian that they "agreed that the partnership would not extend beyond 22 December [2022], when BP's contract came to an end."

The ROH is the latest arts venue that is no longer in association with the oil and gas company, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Portrait Gallery. The RSC ended its sponsorship mid-contract in 2019, while the deal with the gallery expired last year. In addition, the British Museum's contract is set to run out next month and a possible renewal remains unconfirmed.

The sponsorships, which provided BP with iconic venues for lobbying key policymakers at cultural events, had garnered criticism due to the company's negative reputation thanks to a dire record on climate change.

Chris Garrard, a composer and co-director of the organisation known as Culture Unstained, released the following statement: "What we are witnessing is a seismic shift, a near wholesale rejection across the arts of BP's brand and the climate-wrecking business it represents. By bringing down the curtain on fossil fuel funding, the Royal Opera House can now play a leading role in creating the culture beyond oil we so urgently need.

"For many years, BP was the sponsor of the Royal Opera House's ‘BP Big Screens', a series of live opera screenings which took place across the country with the flagship event taking place in Trafalgar Square where BP-branded baseball caps and ponchos were handed out to opera-goers. In 2016, many respected musicians and composers, including Pulitzer-winning composer John Luther Adams and librettist Paul Griffiths, backed a letter calling on the Opera House to cut its ties to BP. Subsequently in 2019, over 200 leading figures from classical, folk and popular music wrote to London mayor Sadiq Khan urging him to withdraw permission for the event to take place in Trafalgar Square while it continued to be branded by BP. The Royal Opera House has also faced regular creative protests against its BP sponsorship deal, from ballet-inspired flashmobs in Trafalgar Square to singing protests inside the auditorium, and with musicians and young artists from Extinction Rebellion also taking action in 2019."

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