The Salzburg Festival has rolled out a new sponsorship deal with the Russian oil company Gazprom.
It replaces former sponsors Nestlé.
Festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said: ‘The connection between Austria and Russia has always been particularly intense about art and culture. If our festival has the reputation of being the best in the world, it owes much of that to Russian artists.’
The deal is multiply problematic.
1 Many arts companies are turning down sponsor deals with gas companies under pressure from climate protesters. Salzburg now puts itself in the front line of pollution protests.
2 Gazprom is a commercial arm of the Putin regime, which is heavily involved in at least three current wars.
3 By signing with Gazprom, Salzburg makes Valery Gergiev, Russia’s cultural tsar, its most powerful artist.
4 The 2019 festival was opened by the director Peter Sellars with a powerful speech on climate change. Sellars, along with many others, may reconsider their involvement with Salzburg in future after this very dirty deal.
5 Austria’s Green Party is up in arms bout the deal. It may become a coalition-breaker.