On Shakespeare’s birthday, a letter in the Guardian

We were delighted to see this letter published in the Guardian today. Such esteemed signatories! Let the battle for the soul of the RSC commence…


Today is Shakespeare’s birthday, and marks the launch of the World Shakespeare Festival. Yet what should be an unabashed celebration of Shakespeare’s continued relevance to our world has been sullied by the fact that the festival is sponsored by BP. While the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill continues to devastate ecosystems and communities, and the highly-polluting extraction of tar sands oil brings us rapidly closer to the point of no return from climate change, we feel that BP has no place in arts sponsorship. We, as individuals involved in theatre and the arts, are deeply concerned that the RSC – like other much-cherished cultural institutions – is allowing itself to be used by BP to obscure the destructive reality of its activities with a veneer of respectability. We would like to see an end to oil sponsorship of the arts, and are committed to finding more responsible ways to finance this country’s cultural life, for our own and future generations.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Rylance, Actor, Writer and Playwright
Caryl Churchill, Playwright
Moira Buffini, Playwright
Van Badham, Playwright,
Jo Tyabji, Director and Actor
Rod Dixon, Red Ladder Theatre Company
James Bolam, Actor
Sue Jameson, Actress
Lisa Wesley, Artist and Theatre Maker
Arabella Lawson, Actress
Harry Giles, Environment Officer, Festivals Edinburgh
Professor Stephen Bottoms, Chair of Drama and Theatre Studies and Director of the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds
Andy Field, Co-Director, Forest Fringe
Daniel Balla, Producer for Gaia Theatre Collective, Director for Coexists Events Space
Tom Worth, Producer of The Globe’s ‘Hamlet on Tour’ documentary
Lucy Jameson,Gaia Theatre
Simon Lys, Gaia Theatre
Leo-Marcus Wan, Actor
Tim Jeeves, Artist and Writer
Phil Maxwell, Director,
Hazuan Hasheem, Director,
Sue Palmer, Contemporary performance maker and artist
Stephen Duncombe, Associate Professor, New York University, Gallatin School of Media, Culture & Communications, Center For Artistic Activism,
Kenny Young, Songwriter, Musician, Founder of Artists Project Earth
Ana Betancour, Professor, Architect, Artist
John Volynchook, Photographer
Leila Galloway, Artist and Senior Lecturer
Dr Wallace Heim, Academic
Tracey Dunn, film maker and community tv broadcaster

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