The Royal Shakespeare Company told Sky News that it "did not want to make any ethical decisions about a company" when it signed an eight-year sponsorship deal with BP.

Instead, the RSC said it was about "securing the future of our organization, which is working so hard to reach half a million young people each year."

Jacqui O & # 39; s Hanlon Education Director Hanlon said his £ 5 ticket offer will "continue" for young people, although a new backer for the program can still be found.

The Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon
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The Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon

BP has been working with RSC over the past eight years to fund the offer for 18- to 25-year-olds, which has benefited some 80,000 young people.

Ms. O & # 39; Hanlon talked about the problems associated with sponsoring the arts and said that "moral riddles are very difficult" but "it is important to us that young people believe that the RSC is an organization who listens to them and cares about what they do, think and feel, and that will continue to bring their money to where their mouth is ".

The RSC announced that it would stop accepting BP's money at the beginning of October, shortly after receiving a letter from ecology student Ella Mann, threatening boycotts of young people if they did not drop the sponsor.

Ms. Mann told Sky News that she was pleased with the decision, but said, "The fight is not over yet and we will continue to push oil companies out of the arts."

About the partnership she said about BP: "It gives them something to hide behind, something that will do them good, if they are really destroying our future."

Jacqui O & # 39; Hanlon talks to Sky News about the demonstrators
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Jacqui O & # 39; Hanlon talks to Sky News about breaking ties with BP
Protesters demonstrate against the sponsorship of the RSC by BP
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Protesters demonstrate against the sponsorship of the RSC by BP

Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance resigned in June after working for 30 years as an Associate Artist at RSC for BP's sponsorship, and climate change protesters put significant pressure on the theater group to end their ties.

Each year, the RSC reaches more than 500,000 children and adolescents through its educational work.

Ms. O & # 39; s Hanlon pointed out that they are a priority for their organization: "For organizations like the RSC, it is crucial to pay attention to young people."

However, the decision of the RSC was not universally praised. Critics, including The Spectator Associate Editor Toby Young, said this was wrong and unnecessary.

"The RSC's decision to prematurely end the BP sponsorship business two years ago – to cut it – seems more like a blank signal for virtue than a fundamental objection to the climate emergency and the role of BP," he said.

Demonstrators of climate change are demonstrating outside the RSC building in Stratford-upon-Avon
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Demonstrators of climate change are demonstrating outside the RSC building in Stratford-upon-Avon

BP made a statement after the announcement in October saying they were "disappointed that this will bring a successful program to a premature end".

It added, "Over the past eight years, 80,000 young people have seen RSC appearances at discounted prices thanks to our sponsorship, and our support to the arts in general in the UK has given millions of people over the age of 50 access to world-class events."

Sky News will be discussing BP's views on sponsorship of the arts over the coming weeks.