Artists boycott Sydney Festival 2022 over Israeli funding
In response to the Israeli occupation attempting to art-wash its crimes, various acts boycott the Sydney Festival 2022 in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
30 acts, including bands, individual artists, companies, and panel members, canceled their performances or attendance at Sydney Festival 2022 that kicked off in Australia on Thursday.
The cancellations came over Israeli funding of the festival and the festival's support for "Israel" while ignoring the regime's oppression of Palestinians on their indigenous land.
The festival's board accepted some $14,300 in a donation from the Israeli embassy in Australia, which were given in support of a show based on work by an Israeli choreographer and an Israeli dance company.
The Israeli occupation's donation earned it a listing as a "star partner" on the website's festival.
Artists withdrew to boycott the Israeli occupation's crimes against Palestine and Palestinians, highlighting the occupation's apartheid practices toward Palestinians.
Those who withdrew include Belvoir theatre production of Black Brass, comedians Tom Ballard and Nazeem Hussain, and other local bands, dancers, and performers.
Ballard explained that his decision to withdraw came "after listening to the calls to boycott the Sydney Festival over its decision to accept funding from and partner with the Embassy of Israel."
"I love to tell jokes," he said, "But standing up for human rights and standing against a system of apartheid is more important," calling on the festival to review its decision and return the funding in question.
After listening to the calls to boycott the @Sydney_Festival over its decision to accept funding from and partner with the Embassy of Israel, I have decided to withdraw from my scheduled performance at the Festival's Gala Comedy Night, in solidarity.— Tom Ballard (@TomCBallard) January 4, 2022
Musical artist Marcus Whale announced his withdrawal on Monday, clarifying that it was a boycott.
"The Israeli Embassy [...] collaborates with Western cultural institutions to pain Israel as a liberal democracy on one hand, while enforcing brutal occupation and apartheid with the other," the young artist tweeted.
To clarify, yes, I am boycotting Sydney Festival 2022. The Israeli Embassy, a star sponsor of Sydfest 2022, collaborates with Western cultural institutions to paint Israel as a liberal democracy on one hand while enforcing brutal occupation and apartheid with the other. No more.— Undead (@marcuswhale) January 2, 2022
Some acts did not fully withdraw from the festival, but they announced they would be participating independently, i.e. without sponsorship, and those include the acclaimed play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner and Return to Sender.
"In light of Sydney Festival seeking and accepting funding from the Israeli embassy, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner has no other choice but to withdraw and boycott the festival," the cast said.
"We will not be coerced into complicity," they added, asserting that they came to this decision together to "stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and with all Indigenous People's right to sovereignty and liberation," they added in an Instagram post while calling "Israel" "another oppressive settler-colony."
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Despite the artist boycott, the Sydney Festival board said it was keeping the show sponsored by the occupation, claiming it "collectively affirms" its "respect for the right of all groups to protest and raise concerns."
The Palestinian Justice Movement Sydney had called for a boycott in December upon knowing that the board accepted the donation in May. The campaign said the festival was contributing to the normalization of an apartheid state.