The Sydney Festival was boycotted at the last minute by a number of acts because of involvement in the Festival by the Israel Embassy in Australia. And now, believe it or not, the chair of the Sydney Festival David Kirk has actually apologized over accepting the Israeli funding.
The Sydney Festival of 2022 has of over 118 events, 30 world premieres and 48 new commissions spanning 25 exciting days. Unfortunately, just before it began, about 30 acts dropped out just because they don’t like the fact that Israel is involved with it.
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What did Israel do? Well, it provided all of $20,000 for just one of the many acts. The Israeli Embassy in Australia gave the financial support for a performance at the Sydney Festival by the Sydney Dance Company of a work, Decadance, by world renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
Now, in an interview with Guardian Australia, Kirk said that the Sydney Festival should have had more debate over the question of accepting funding from the Israel Embassy and that it would not have allowed the funds be provided for the act had they known about it ahead of time. Kirk promised that the Festival will conduct more serious reviews of all sources of its funding in the future.
So, had it known, the Sydney Festival would not have allowed an act to perform if it was funded by Israel. Wow! Kirk did not feel a need to justify this attitude and went on to apologize to all of those poor souls who were harmed by the very knowledge that Israel was in any way financially connected to the Sydney festival.
“We are very sorry for the fact that we put artists in a situation where they felt compromised or have been pressurized,” said Kirk, “and have either been in a position where they’ve felt the need to withdraw their work or continue with their work [and] have been subjected to pretty serious social media pressure to withdraw.”
“Pressure?” “Compromised?” What the hell is this man talking about? Maybe next time everyone else should boycott the Sidney Festival if it refuses to accept any money from Israel?
— Israeli Embassy OZ (@IsraelinOZ) January 13, 2022
The Israel Embassy in Australia responded by tweeting out a statement made by Australian Senator Eric Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel, calling out the Hamas-supported BDS boycott of Sydney Festival.
The Sydney Festival says that it has been embracing the art of summer since 1977 and has a “stellar legacy of drawing the finest artists in the world to Sydney, and introducing the country’s finest to the world.” Sydney Festival was conceived by the Sydney Committee, the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney to attract Sydneysiders into the city center during the holiday month of January.
The first Festival took place in 1977 and it has since grown to become one of Australia’s largest annual cultural celebrations with an international reputation for modern, popular and intelligent programming. Sydney Festival celebrates our city, and the Festival’s style and energy reflect the confidence, diversity and vigor of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.