Sydney Festival has announced its decision to suspend all funding from international governments and cultural agencies. The news comes in response to the controversy surrounding the 2022 Sydney Festival’s $20,000 sponsorship partnership with the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.
Ultimately, more than 30 artists pulled out of the 2022 festival and called for a boycott. While the Sydney Festival issued a statement at the time noting that all performances – including the dance performance sponsored by the Israeli Embassy – would go ahead, they conceded they would “review its practices in relation to funding from foreign governments or related parties”.
Sydney Festival has shared the findings from an independent review
Statement from the board of Sydney Festival.
— Sydney Festival (@sydney_festival) September 27, 2022
Now, Sydney Festival has announced a range of measures designed to improve the decision-making process around partnerships and sponsorships ahead of the launch of their 2023 program. Almost 50 stakeholders, including artists, partners, employees from the Sydney Festival’s leadership team and board, and other festivals and arts bodies, were asked for input in the lead-up to the decision.
“Sydney Festival acknowledges that events leading up to and during the 2022 Festival could have been better managed to minimise the impact on artists, employees, partners, supporters and the wider community,” explained Sydney Festival Chair, David Kirk. “We sincerely apologise to all those affected.
“We would like to thank everyone who shared their experiences as part of the review process. We have listened to what was said, and we are acting on key findings.”
In addition to suspending all funding from international governments and cultural agencies, the Sydney Festival has committed to strengthening its sources of advice for social and cultural issues, reviewing and updating crisis management response policies and procedures, and contributing to a wider conversation with other relevant organisations and stakeholders about the sources of financial support for the arts in Australia.
“The independent review also reported broad recognition that events in January could have happened to other arts organisations,” Kirk said. “It has shown that there is appetite for a broader conversation about sources of financial support for the arts in Australia. Sydney Festival looks forward to being part of that wider discussion.”
The Sydney Festival’s full statement regarding the findings from their independent review can be found on their website.