Belvoir St Theater Responds to Those Claiming They Are Boycotting Sydney Festival
The Israel-haters have been loving the fact that some ignoramuses and fellow haters exist among the artistic community, especially those who were slated to perform as part of the Sydney Festival but withdrew.
Like Belvoir St Theater:
Just one slight problem:
We appreciate the open and deeply felt dialogue we have had with many of our supporters around this complex issue in the past few days. All our artists, audiences and donors are an important part of our community and we are grateful for the long standing support you have shown Belvoir.
We understand that some people believe we have withdrawn from, or boycotted, Sydney Festival, or that we were suggesting artists would not be physically safe performing in the Festival. Others believed we were protesting against the Israeli choreographer, Ohad Naharin, whose work DECADENCE was performed by Sydney Dance Company. None of these reflect our position.
We have not withdrawn from or boycotted Sydney Festival, and we were certainly not protesting about any events in the Festival.
The calls for a boycott put us in a difficult position: we wanted to acknowledge strong and varied concerns from our community of artists and we wanted to honour our commitment to audiences and artists of Black Brass. Our judgement was that we could meet both these commitments by self-funding our presentation of Black Brass. We didn’t fully appreciate the ramifications of this position for all members of our community.
We recognise that other approaches may have been open to us. We understand that, in being open to one viewpoint, it can appear we’re silencing others. This is not our intention. We want a wide array of viewpoints, even irreconcilable ones, to have a place in our city and on our stage. We apologise for any hurt or offence that our making this complex decision has caused.
On the issue of safety, we must be clear. Belvoir wants all artists, and all audiences, to be safe, and to feel safe, literally and figuratively, in our theatre.
Our main concern is to work towards openness and the broadest possible space for many different artists and audiences to meet through the art.
It is these difficult conversations that will shape Belvoir’s future. Your long standing support of Belvoir to be a place that is open, and supportive of all people so that they can share their stories, is truly appreciated.
True, Belvoir did confuse many with a nonsensical virtue-signaling post that spoke of “Palestinian artists” being “unable to participate in this year’s Sydney Festival with the same cultural safety” (what does that even mean?)
But I am glad to see they clarified their position, one that will no doubt anger many haters. Which is always a good thing.
Update: Belvoir’s Producer and Creative Producer for Black Brass – the show at the Sydney Festival- is Zainab Syed, who was born in Pakistan and has worked at the Australian Red Cross as a Humanitarian Observer. This might indicate hostility towards Israel and/or Jews, but there is no evidence to suggest it. If anything, she seems genuine in her concern for human rights.