200 leading musicians including Dame Evelyn Glennie, tenor Mark Padmore and composer Nigel Osborne have backed a letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan to withdraw permission for BP’s branding of the Royal Opera House (ROH) screenings in Trafalgar Square.
The letter stated that: ‘[BP]’s sponsorship of the Big Screens is a clear investment in a form of advertising intended to bolster the company’s social legitimacy at a time of climate crisis. It is only with permission granted by your team each year that BP’s brand can be displayed and its merchandise distributed in Trafalgar Square.’
It concluded: ‘It is entirely reasonable for the Greater London Authority (GLA) to grant use of Trafalgar Square for the public to access opera. It is not reasonable, though, for the Royal Opera House to then use it to promote a company whose core product the GLA is in the process of divesting from as part of its response to the climate crisis.’
Other classical musicians to sign the letter were Graham Fitkin, director of music at Westminster Abbey Choir School James Lark, executive director of Sound and Music Susanna Eastburn, and artistic director of Mahogany Opera Frederic Wake-Walker.
Dame Evelyn Glennie said: ‘Living as far as we reasonably can by our values and principles by caring for people, our planet and creating sustainable profit is key; this can only be a good investment for our future. We all have an opportunity to act responsibly in a way that sustains business, contributes to the economy and society and the world we all share and value.’
Chris Garrard, composer and co-director of Culture Unstained, said: ‘This letter sends a clear message to the GLA and the ROH that helping a company that is investing billions in new oil and gas to boost its public profile just isn’t acceptable. Both Sadiq Khan and chief executive of ROH have made tackling climate change a central part of their agendas but unless it is backed up by bold action that actually takes on the root causes of the climate emergency, their otherwise well-intentioned goals will be undermined.’
The full letter and list of signatories can be viewed here.