Performers manipulate large fabric sheets for their show 'Air Play' during a preview for the Sydney Festival in Sydney, Australia, January 21, 2020

Sydney Festival apologizes to artists over Israeli boycott

Some artists withdraw from event in Australia in protest of Israeli government funding for a dance performance; deputy envoy in Canberra dubs move 'hypocritical'

i24NEWS |
Published: 01.16.22, 10:53
The chair of the Sydney Festival in Australia apologized Thursday to the artists who participated in the event that was upended by a boycott over Israeli government funding.
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  • “We are very sorry for the fact that we put artists in a situation where they felt compromised," said festival chair David Kirk.
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    Performers manipulate large fabric sheets for their show 'Air Play' during a preview for the Sydney Festival in Sydney, Australia, January 21, 2020
    Performers manipulate large fabric sheets for their show 'Air Play' during a preview for the Sydney Festival in Sydney, Australia, January 21, 2020
    Performers manipulate large fabric sheets for their show 'Air Play' during a preview for the Sydney Festival in Sydney, Australia, January 21, 2020
    (Photo: AP)
    Many artists found themselves "in a position where they felt the need to withdraw their work or continue with their work,” he added.
    Kirk reiterated that the festival board would launch an independent probe and consider whether the festival would allow government sponsorship of such events in the future.
    The Sydney Festival - a major arts festival in Australia’s largest city - was boycotted in protest of funding by the Israeli government of a Sydney Dance Company production created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
    About $15,000 was granted by Israel’s embassy in the capital Canberra.
    Demands of the boycott included either canceling the performance or the return of the grant to Israel’s government.
    In response to the protest, more than 30 individuals and groups affiliated with the festival either pulled out or performed without the festival’s backing.
    Kirk told The Guardian that he was unaware of any Israeli funding until he saw the government’s logo on the festival program.
    The Israeli embassy in Australia disputed such a narrative.
    “They told us about it… and we were happy and honored to support it,” said deputy ambassador Ron Gerstenfeld.
    “It’s a bit of hypocrisy to say we are doing some sort of art-wash in order to hide some kind of Israeli activities in any other sphere.”

    Republished with permission from i24NEWS.
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