October 12, 1989: As the Royal Shakespeare Company ends its ties with BP following pressure from climate protesters, we look back to three decades ago when the company’s then lead sponsor, Royal Insurance, was making the news.
As we reported: “Royal Insurance, the firm responsible for Britain’s largest one-off deal ever provided for a theatre company by the private sector, made a public admission that it is becoming increasingly impatient with Whitehall’s apparent reluctance to boost its own level of support to the arts as forecast in last week’s The Stage.
“In 1987, Royal Insurance announced a record-breaking sponsorship deal with the RSC, which provided £1.1 million to the flagship company over a three-year period. But in a hard-hitting statement included in this year’s Arts Council annual report, Royal Insurance’s chief executive Ian Rushton warned that the government’s own commitment to the RSC in recent years has failed to keep pace with rising inflation.
“ ‘No business could operate successfully when a major source of revenue, in this case the government, expects high standards of excellence but is not willing to offer forward guarantees on income,’ warned Rushton. ‘This is made even worse when the government allows that revenue to be reduced in real terms. A business faced with such a position would surely go bankrupt or have to debase its standards.’ ”
If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive