UK’s Royal Opera House ends 33-year BP funding deal

The UK’s Royal Opera House announced on Wednesday that it had ended its 33-year sponsorship deal with energy giant BP following pressure and protests from environmentalists.

The London cultural institution said in a statement to AFP that it was “grateful to BP for their sponsorship over 33 years… but agreed that the partnership would not extend beyond December 2022, when BP’s contract came to an end”.

The oil firm was the sponsor of the opera house’s “BP Big Screens”, which beamed live opera screenings across the UK, including in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Climate change campaigners have put pressure on the institution in recent years to sever its funding ties with fossil fuel companies.

Pulitzer-winning composer John Luther Adams and librettist Paul Griffiths backed a 2016 letter urging it to dump BP as a sponsor, while regular protests took place against the deal.

The opera house now joins fellow UK cultural heavyweights the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Portrait Gallery in cutting ties with BP.

Chris Garrard, co-founder of campaign group Culture Unstained, said the decisions marked “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.”

The British Museum has not yet said whether it will renew its own BP deal when the current contract ends next month.

There was no immediate comment from BP. — Agence France-Presse