Roundhouse and Donmar Warehouse refuse money deriving from painkiller linked to opioid crisis in the United States
Two leading theaters turned down Sackler Trust funding – including a £ 1 m donation offered to London’s Roundhouse – in the latest fallout from claims linking the Sackler family’s fortune to the US drug opioid crisis.
The Roundhouse was identified as receiving last year’s grant in company accounts filed by the trust early in October, but has now announced that it has decided not to take the money because it would distract young people from their work.
Another institution, the Donmar Warehouse, told the Guardian on Thursday that, after receiving an initial £ 60,000 instalment last December, it had decided to terminate a funding agreement to receive the rest of a £ 180,000 grant.
The developments came after the National Portrait Gallery became the first major art institution to give up a grant from the Sackler family earlier this year, in a decision that critics hailed as a groundbreaking victory in the battle over arts funding ethics.
Subsequently, Dame Theresa Sackler, the trust chair, announced that all new philanthropic giving would be temporarily suspended while continuing to respect existing commitments.
The move came after U.S. activists continued to increase pressure on Sacklers-funded galleries and museums, and Theresa Sackler and other family members faced legal action in the U.S.
Much of the riches of some family members has come from one product: OxyContin, the prescription painkiller that was launched in 1996, a big aggravator of the opioid crisis which kills more than 100 people a day in the US.
A Roundhouse spokesman said in a statement first published by The Stage: “We are enormously grateful for the trust’s support over the years, but we have made a decision not to accept the donation at this time. Doing so risks distracting young people from our work, and that is our priority.”
In addition to the Roundhouse, the 2018 accounts of the trust also reported that last year’s next highest grants were distributed to the Young Vic (£ 375,000), the Old Vic (£ 350,000) and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (£ 250,000).
Other identified recipients included the Borne Foundation, which funds premature birth prevention work and has been reported as obtaining a grant of £ 150,000.
A spokesman for the Donmar Warehouse told the Guardian that in 2018 it obtained a three-year grant from the Sackler Trust and used a first payment of £ 60,000 in December to complete a programme of educational activity that it had been committed to this year.
“Since 2018, we have not received any additional funds from the trust. The Donmar board decided to terminate the funding deal prior to the next instalment becoming due.”
Theresa Sackler said in a statement issued earlier this year: “I am deeply saddened by the addiction crisis in America and support the actions Purdue Pharma is taking to help tackle the situation, whilst still rejecting the false allegations made against the company and several members of the Sackler family.
“The recent press attention caused by these legal cases in the United States has generated immense pressure on the institutions of science, medicine, education and the arts here in the United Kingdom, big and small, although I am so proud to support. Such attention distracts them from their important work that they do.”.


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