Today it was revealed that, after 34 years, BP will no longer sponsor the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). The move follows intense pressure on the EIF last August, including one of its major stars, Simon McBurney, speaking out publicly in criticism of the sponsor, and a protest performance from theatrical campaign group BP or not BP? [1].

The EIF 2016 programme was revealed today and BP was absent from the sponsors list. The end of the relationship was confirmed by the EIF via twitter. [2]

This comes less than a month after BP and Tate announced they were parting company after 26 years, and two days after the new British Museum director came under intense pressure from 100 cultural, scientific and political luminaries to end its own long-running contract with the oil giant. [3]

Daniel Bye, whose show won a Fringe First award last year and who joined the creative protest against BP outside Usher Hall, said:

Whether or not it's down to the vociferous campaigns, I'm delighted that EIF have ended their association with massive corporate criminal BP. I look forward to the day when arts organisations gladhanding big oil looks as freakishly untenable as tobacco or arms sponsorship. This takes us one step closer.

Last year saw two creative protests against BP during the festival, once outside Usher Hall and one in the Hub, the EIF’s headquarters. Following the festival, a group led by EIF staff, called BP Out of the Arts – Edinburgh, formed. They sent a letter to Fergus Linehan, EIF Director, and launched a public petition, resulting in a meeting with the director last autumn. [4]

Jess Worth from BP or not BP?, who co-ordinated the protests at least year’s festival, said:

‘It’s less than a month since Tate parted company with BP and the dominoes are clearly starting to fall. The EIF has walked away from a 34-year partnership because being associated with BP was doing too much damage to its reputation. Big oil has been embedded in our museums and festivals for too long but now the shift to a fossil free culture is taking off. However, there is more to be done in Edinburgh. Now the Science Festival must clear out its fossil fuel funders and the Portrait Gallery should close its doors to BP.”

Amanda Grimm from BP or not BP? Scotland, which formed after the EIF protest last year and in February highlighted the ethical problems with BP's sponsorship of the Portrait Award by staging a pop-up performance inside the Scottish National Portrait Gallery [5], said:

‘We are delighted that the sponsorship deal between BP and the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has not been renewed. We congratulate the EIF staff who kept the pressure on the Festival's director after the performance protest at the Festival last August. The world is shifting away from fossil fuels, and we believe that arts and cultural institutions, as trend-setters and forward-thinkers, should be at the forefront of this vital shift.

Ric Lander from Friends of the Earth Scotland [6] said:

“Edinburgh International Festival should be congratulated on freeing itself from fossil fuel sponsorship. We know that most fossil fuels reserves must be kept in the ground if we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We need to urgently move away from extracting and burning fossil fuels and companies like BP who continue to profit from the destruction of our environment have no place in our treasured cultural events or institutions.”

Notes to editors

1. Press coverage of BP or not BP? performance action and Simon McBurney’s support last August
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/scotland/article4529498.ece
http://www.thenational.scot/news/edinburgh-international-festival-urged-…

Film of BP or not BP? performance at the Hub
https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimShakespeareCompany/videos/981839215212308/

BP or not BP website: www.bp-or-not-bp.org

Photos of EIF performances (please credit Andrew Perry): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yozlcx8ybengjd2/AAAWov_GovsidtoxVUNjS8gna?dl=0

Video of EIF performance (Aug 2015) https://youtu.be/qLMtZ9paP2c

2. List of sponsors of EIF 2016: http://www.eif.co.uk/2016-supporters
Confirmation from EIF: https://twitter.com/edintfest/status/717659506340069376

3. See http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/apr/03/mark-ruffalo-british-muse…

4. Facebook page for campaign started by EIF staff: https://www.facebook.com/BP-out-of-the-Arts-Edinburgh-793015797492597/
Petition:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bp-out-of-the-edinburgh-internati…

5.BP or not BP Scotland is an environmental protest group founded to challenge oil sponsorship of the arts http://bp-or-not-bp.org/scotland/

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk