Like doomed star-crossed lovers, Barclays and Sadlers Wells are trapped in a deadly romance as they exchange money for social acceptance.
Activists with Fossil Free London interrupted a ballet performance of Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet at Sadler's Wells theatre on Thursday evening.
Five stormed the stage just after the interval holding a banner reading 'Drop Barclays Sponsorship', while two more held placards and chanted from the wings. They remained on stage chanting “oily money out” for 5-10 minutes, before security removed them.
Joanna Warrington, a spokesperson for Fossil Free London, said: “Like doomed star-crossed lovers, Barclays and Sadlers Wells are trapped in a deadly romance as they exchange money for social acceptance, except in this version, after the worst effects of climate breakdown ricochet across the world, we all die.
"By taking their dirty money, Sadlers Wells’ is helping Barclays to launder its dirty image and is complicit in their climate-wrecking investments. It’s time to cut oily money out of the arts.”
Barclays, which sponsors Sadlers Wells, has attracted criticism over its ongoing funding of new oil and gas projects. It has invested over $190 billion in fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2016.
The bank also invests in Equinor, the oil company behind the controversial Rosebank oil field, which is currently being considered for approval. In recent months, Wimbledon and the National Trust have also drawn criticism over their financial ties with Barclays.
The targeting of Sadlers Wells comes at a time in which fossil fuel companies and the banks which sponsor them struggle to maintain their social licence. A leaked 2020 internal BP memolamented how they are perceived “as one of the bad guys”.
The protest is part of Fossil Free London campaign targeting oil companies and their financiers in London, culminating in a three day action against the Oil & Money summit in October.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Fossil Free London.