Edinburgh Festival hit by protest over BP backing

Protesters invaded the Hub to condemn BP's Festival links. Picture: Andrew Perry
Protesters invaded the Hub to condemn BP's Festival links. Picture: Andrew Perry
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PROTESTERS against the Edinburgh International Festival’s sponsorship deal with oil giants BP invaded the event’s headquarters and ripped up official programmes.

A 15-strong group from activist theatre group “BP or not BP?” also staged a performance inside the Hub, the administrative headquarters of the festival.

The group had earlier demonstrated outside the EIF’s flagship concert venue, the Usher Hall.

The group won the backing of a number of festival performers, including theatre-maker Simon McBurney, one of the stars of this year’s EIF programme, who urged the festival to sever its ties with BP over the company’s environmental record.

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A number of leading cultural institutions have been targeted by campaigners over “unethical” sponsorship deals with BP, described as an “official partner” in the festival programme.

Mr McBurney, who is appearing in The Encounter at the EICC, said: “Of course, it is hypocritical of me, because I am in the festival, and being paid by the festival, to be standing here.

“The reason why I have come along is about raising consciousness. I am concerned about what is happening to our world. One day I will have to explain to my children why we are in the situation we are in. I make the act of resistance that I can. You have to begin somewhere.”

Daniel Bye, who won a Fringe First Award last week for his one-man show at Summerhall, said: “The EIF just doesn’t need BP’s sponsorship. There are several other kinds of sponsorship that arts organisations used to accept, from tobacco companies and the arms industry, that are now seen as beyond the pale.

“There’s no sensible reason to me why oil isn’t on that list given the urgency of action on climate change. It makes BP look good by accepting their money. It is deeply troubling.”

A spokeswoman for the EIF said: “We are grateful to all of the public and private sector organisations who support the Festival and make it possible for us to present world-class work to the widest possible audience. We also support free speech and the right to peaceful protest.”