Hitherto, RTZ has not been involved in arts sponsorship, concentrating its pounds 2.5m charity budget on educational projects more relevant to its business - such as scholarships to the Camborne School of Mines and sponsoring a Readership in Environmental Engineering.
But following the arrival of Sir Derek Birkin, a Trustee of Covent Garden, as RTZ's chairman, the giant has spread its wings. To be fair to Sir Derek, he has not indulged in the usual chairman's ego trip of sponsoring a big arts exhibition. Instead, RTZ is spending pounds 300,000 over the next three years on subsidies and scholarships for five schools: the Guildhall, the Royal College of Art, the Centre for Young Musicians, the Royal Academy Schools and the Lilian Baylis Youth Dance company. This is apparently the first time a business sponsor has become involved in education in the arts.
The only public display RTZ is allowing itself is a festival the week after next at St James's Church, Picadilly.
RTZ's initiative reveals just how desperate the situation has become. Stephen Dagg, deputy director of the Centre for Young Musicians, said: 'If it hadn't been for RTZ, we would have been in the position of saying to children for the first time, 'if you can't pay, you can't come'. '