An anti-Israeli protest boycotting the Sydney Festival has been slammed as censorship for political purposes by celebrities around the world, including KISS frontman Gene Simmons.
Hollywood heavyweights have clapped back at anti-Israeli protesters boycotting the Sydney Festival after the Israeli embassy handed over $20,000 to help the arts festival put on a series of contemporary dance performances by a world-renowned choreographer.
So far 11 events have been cancelled from the festival’s line-up of plays, concerts and other performances due to artists pulling out.
A Jewish leader on Thursday said nobody batted an eyelid when the Chinese Communist Party-controlled China Southern Airlines sponsored the festival for seven years but the latest partnership triggered outrage, including from comedian Tom Ballard who said the money should be handed back.
“I respectfully ask that (the Sydney Festival) review its decision and return the funding in question, and I call on other artists to consider joining this boycott, too,” Ballard said.
The cast and crew of the play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner also pulled out, saying that remaining involved would mean being complicit with “the art-washing of their star sponsor’s apartheid state”.
But Hollywood heavyweights, including Nancy Spielberg, as well as KISS frontman Gene Simmons signed an open letter yesterday urging Australians to resist attempts at censorship for political purposes.
“While art can reflect politics and artists can choose to reflect their politics in their own art, art should never become subservient to politics, and artists and cultural events should never be forced to be politicised,” the letter said.
Warner Records chief executive Aaron Bay-Schuck and Australian musician Nick Cave were also among the 120 signatories to the letter, co-ordinated by the Creative Community for Peace — a non-profit group promoting the arts as a means to counter anti-Semitism and oppose the cultural boycott of Israel.
The $20,000 reportedly paid by the Israeli embassy went to supporting the presentation of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Decadance at the Sydney Opera House from Thursday.
A festival spokesman said the performance was close to selling out, and of the 133 events originally scheduled, 11 were not proceeding.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark said China had indirectly backed the event for years.
“Despite the accusations against China’s government regarding the genocide against the Uyghurs and the Tibetans, there were no similar boycott campaigns like we are seeing this year,” he said.
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