Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater on Sunday over a production of “Julius Caesar” that depicts the main character as President Trump, and stages his assassination during each performance.
Delta, a four-year sponsor which reportedly donates between $100,000 and $400,000 annually, announced its sponsorship withdrawal first, and Bank of America’s announcement followed shortly thereafter.
The modernized version of the play—in which a Trump lookalike is stabbed to death by women and minorities—has been criticized for promoting violence against the president.
“I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Sunday regarding the production.
I wonder how much of this “art” is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does “art” become political speech & does that change things? https://t.co/JfOmLLBJCn
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 11, 2017
Delta announced Sunday that the company was cutting ties with New York’s Public Theatre.
“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” a company spokesman said in a statement.
“Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of The Public Theater effective immediately.”
Another of the theaters’ twelve corporate sponsors, Bank of America, reacted similarly.
“Bank of America supports art programs worldwide, including an 11-year partnership with The Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park,” a spokeswoman said. “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.”
The theater has published a warning regarding the production and the violent nature of the assassination.
Oskar Eustis, artistic director for the theater, said that the play should not be taken literally. Eustis said, “Anyone seeing our production of ‘Julius Caesar’ will realize it in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”
CNN host Fareed Zakaria praised the production, calling it a “masterpiece.”
Watch the assassination scene in the play:
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