Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director said: "We are saddened that Mark Rylance has decided he can no longer be one of our Associate Artists, but we respect his decision. We thank him for his long association with the Company.

"Importantly, no sponsor influences or drives our artistic decision making and we are committed to exploring contemporary issues and ideas in all our work. We have a clear donation and sponsorship acceptance policy and consider potential offers of support individually. We recognise the importance of a robust and engaged debate in taking these decisions, especially in the light of the acknowledged environment and climate emergency.

"Corporate sponsorship is an important part of our funding, alongside ticket sales, public investment, private philanthropy and commercial activity. BP’s sponsorship of our £5 ticket scheme for 16-25 year olds gives many young people the chance to see our work, and the scheme is highly valued by our audiences. It’s one of the many ways that help us to establish lifetime enthusiasts for Shakespeare and live theatre and applies to all of our productions whether in Stratford, London or on tour around the UK."

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