Sydney Festival has broken its silence following a mass exodus of artists from its 2022 roster.
Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper Barkaa and Melbourne instrumental funk crew Karate Boogaloo are just two of about 30 artists and organisations who’ve pulled out of the festival and called for a boycott after organisers announced a controversial funding partnership with the Israeli Embassy.
The Embassy’s $20,000 cash injection is going towards a dance performance entitled Decadence, a collaboration between Sydney Dance Company and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company. However, many feel the funding contributes to the Israeli government’s oppression of Palestinians, who lived in the country before Israel was established in the 20th century.
After weeks of silence, festival organisers have today issued a statement addressing the controversy.
“All funding agreements for the current Festival – including for Decadance [the Israeli-sponsored performance] will be honoured, and the performances will proceed,” said Chair of the festival’s board, David Kirk.
However, he did make one small concession, adding: “At the same time, the Board has also determined it will review its practices in relation to funding from foreign governments or related parties”.
His reaction did not sit well with boycott leader and Palestinian activist, Jennine Khalik, who tweeted: “The absolute audacity of the Sydney Festival from a statement it released today”.
“This is not about some dance, we couldn’t care less, it’s about the money. Get the money elsewhere,” she continued.
“Don’t accept Israeli apartheid regime money. Don’t make apartheid your ‘star’.”
Since the statement was issued, two more artists have dropped out of the festival; comedian Tom Ballard and the Belvoir St Theatre.
Sydney Festival kicks off this Thursday, 6th January and runs til Jan 30th.
You can peep the full list of artists who’ve withdrawn from the event right here.
The absolute audacity of the @sydney_festival from a statement it released today. This is not about some dance, we couldn't care less, it's about the money. Get the money elsewhere. Don't accept Israeli apartheid regime money. Don't make apartheid your 'star'. #sydneyfestival pic.twitter.com/4TMFy8j3Qh
— Jennine #SaveSheikhJarrah #SaveSilwan (@jennineak) January 4, 2022