Sydney festival boycott: more than 20 acts withdraw over Israeli funding
Festival board issues new statement as protest against it grows, with program thrown into chaos two days before opening night
More than 20 acts have pulled out of the 2022 Sydney festival, just 48 hours before opening night, boycotting the festival over a sponsorship deal with the Israeli embassy.
The comedian Tom Ballard, the Belvoir theatre production of Black Brass, former NSW politician Meredith Burgmann, First Nations dance company Marrugeku and commentator Yumi Stynes are just some of the festival participants who have either cancelled or distanced themselves in protest, joining a growing number of Arab, pro-Palestinian, First Nations and Greens groups spearheading the call for a boycott.
In a statement posted to social media on Tuesday, Belvoir said it had a “long and fruitful relationship” with the Sydney festival. “Black Brass was made by and with the many African communities in Perth,” the post said.
“At the heart of the process was a commitment to cultural safety which gives artists the freedom to work without fear or compromise.
“In recognition that the community is now divided and Palestinian artists are unable to participate in this year’s Sydney Festival with the same cultural safety that was so essential to the making of Black Brass, we are choosing not to accept any direct financial support from the Festival.”
On Tuesday the Sydney festival board put out a second statement, backing its controversial decision to forge ahead with a Sydney Dance Company production of Decadance, a work created by the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company, whose Sydney festival participation is being funded by a $20,000 grant from the Embassy of Israel in Canberra.
“We spent time with a number of groups who have concerns about this funding and welcomed the opportunity to engage with them. All funding agreements for the current Festival – including for Decadance – will be honoured, and the performances will proceed.
“At the same time, the Board has also determined it will review its practices in relation to funding from foreign governments or related parties.”
The festival badly needed money due to COVID restrictions.
The Israeli embassy sponsored it to the tune of $20,000.
Dozens of artists and performers pull out in boycott because they can’t stand to be around Jews.
The festival organization tries to figure out how to not accept Jewish money in subsequent years.
They all claim this is because of safety, because Jews sponsoring the arts is somehow dangerous to Australian First Nations (Aboriginal) people.
Fine, if these people want to destroy their own art festival rather than allow Jewish sponsorship, fuck ’em.
But don’t let them pretend to be the virtuous ones. They’re just a bunch of bigots and should be treated with the appropriate amount of derision for it.