In January 2023 the Royal Opera House disclosed that its partnership with BP had ended after 33 years. The Royal Opera House joins the Royal Shakespeare Company, which ended its BP sponsorship mid-contract in 2019, and the National Portrait Gallery, which announced the end of its partnership last year, as opposition to fossil fuel funding has grown and scrutiny of BP’s ongoing investment in new oil and gas has intensified.
BP had sponsored the Royal Opera House (ROH) since 1988, most recently with a five year sponsorship deal which began in 2018.
- BP has sponsored the ‘BP Big Screen’ broadcasts that took place annually across the UK. The Big Screens offer BP a valuable opportunity to boost its brand, with photos of opera-goers wearing free BP-branded merchandise posted widely across social media.
- BP has often invited government ministers to attend opera performances as its VIP guests, an opportunity to maintain close relationships with policy-makers.
- Executive Director of the ROH Alex Beard (formerly Deputy Director of Tate when it too was sponsored by BP) has been keen to tout the institution’s green credentials while overlooking the ethical conflict created by a sponsorship deal with Big Oil. The ROH’s Environmental Policy says that, “The climate crisis is the most important issue facing the globe today… It is the ambition of the Royal Opera House to be a leader in environmental sustainability and to act as a catalyst for positive change in our industry.”
- Former BP CEO John Browne has sat on the Royal Opera House’s Board since 2020 and its ‘Finance and Commercial Committee’. Its Chair until 2017, now the ROH’s Honorary Vice President, Sir Simon Robey, counted BP as one of his boutique banking firm’s major clients, advising BP on the $10.5bn acquisition of shale assets from BHP Group in 2018.
Our campaign so far…
The Royal Opera House disclosed the end of its 33 year partnership with BP in January 2023. Chris Garrard from Culture Unstained said: 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.
Over 200 musicians and composers back a letter to the Mayor of London, calling on him to withdraw permission for BP’s branding of the Royal Opera House’s ‘BP Big Screens’
As part of our Crude Connections web resource, we revealed how the Royal Opera House and BP’s sponsorship of classical music is a key part of how the company boosts its business in Russia.
Prior to forming Culture Unstained in 2015, we helped to coordinate a letter from a group of respected composers and musicians calling on the Royal Opera House to end its BP sponsorship deal.