Today, 23 April, is Shakespeare’s birthday and marks the launch of the World Shakespeare festival (Review, 21 April). 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. 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.Mark Rylance Actor, writer and playwrightMoira Buffini PlaywrightVan Badham PlaywrightJo Tyabji Director and actorRod Dixon Red Ladder Theatre CompanyJames Bolam ActorSue Jameson Actor Lisa Wesley Artist and theatre-maker Arabella Lawson ActorHarry Giles Environment officer, Festivals Edinburgh Professor Stephen Bottoms Chair of drama and theatre studies and director of the Workshop Theatre, University of LeedsAndy Field Co-director, Forest Fringe Daniel Balla Producer, Gaia Theatre Collective; director, 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 ActorTim Jeeves Artist and writer Phil Maxwell Director Hazuan Hasheem DirectorSue 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 and former set designerTracey Dunn Film-maker and community tv broadcaster
• The four MPs who criticise the call for a boycott of Israel’s National Theatre were poorly briefed (Letters, 21 April). To say that Habima is a “non-government affiliated theatre group” is an odd claim, given it is state-financed and has received £10,000 from Israel’s foreign ministry specifically for the planned performance at the Globe. It meets perfectly the criteria for boycott, following the Palestinians’ call for international support in achieving decolonisation.Ben WhiteCambridge
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