Shell’s membership of the National Theatre will come to an end next year, as the arts organisation unveils an accelerated goal of making itself carbon neutral in the face of the climate emergency.
The National Theatre lists fossil fuel company Shell as one of its corporate Gold members. Prices for this band of membership begin at £15,000 a year.
It has not been made clear whose decision it was for the partnership to end in June next year, but a statement from the National Theatre said: “Shell have been valued and longstanding supporters of the National Theatre, most recently as corporate members – this membership will come to an end in June 2020.”
The end of Shell’s association with the theatre follows news earlier this week that the Royal Shakespeare Company has ended its longstanding partnership with BP, following pressure from young people who claimed they would boycott the theatre if the relationship continued.
The National has also declared a climate emergency, claiming theatre is having an impact on the situation.
“We create work that is inherently temporary; that makes use of raw materials, of heat, light and sound; that asks people to travel to a particular location at a particular time,” it said.
It added: “However, we believe theatre can be part of the solution – we tell stories, shape culture and encourage empathy and understanding.”
The theatre said the scale of the change required means it is now “scrutinising every part of the way we operate” and added it was on track to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
But it said change was needed faster and it would now be focusing on setting “ambitious targets to move towards net carbon zero on site”. It said it had already reduced energy, waste, water and carbon impact by 25% since 2016.
The theatre is working with Julie’s Bicycle to analyse the carbon impact of its activities and to help it set a realistic target.
In addition, the National said it would make sure climate and ecological concerns are reflected in its programming, and that it would be working with production teams to reduce their environmental impact.
It added it would be assessing the impact of its touring and will be working to minimise its carbon impact, and said it would also enable audiences to “understand and minimise their pollution and carbon footprint”.