Benjamin Law resigns from Sydney Festival board amid Israeli sponsorship review

He took to social media on Saturday, saying his resignation was an act on his part and that he was sorry for the position artists had been placed in.

“While I cannot speak on behalf of the board or the festival, I am personally sorry to the artists and arts workers at the Sydney festival that you have been put in a position where you may have had to choose between your job and your values, or jumping into conversations you may have felt unprepared for,” Law said in a lengthy statement.

“Many of you have been faced with a lose-lose proposition. On the one hand: play and be criticized for apparently standing with a foreign government whose money you have never touched. other: step aside and lose vital work in a time that has been upsetting for you and the entire arts community.

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Image to read more article 'Performers boycotted the Sydney Festival this month.  Here's why'

Artist Khaled Sabsabi, dance ensemble Bindi Bosses, rapper Barkaa, comedians Nazeem Hussain and Tom Ballard, journalist Amy McQuire and author Yumi Stynes ​​are among those who have cut ties with the festival these last weeks.

Law said he had arranged meetings between the festival board and the protesters and hoped those meetings would continue.

“In all of this, I have done my best to serve the festival, advocate for artists, and help facilitate difficult but necessary conversations,” he wrote.

“However, this comes at a personal cost. I recognize that I am one of many. Artists involved in the Sydney Festival – all of whom have seen COVID-19 work and income wiped out – have understandably felt frustration as to why they have been put in a situation that was not theirs. do. As an artist who myself worked for the Sydney Festival, I feel this frustration.

In a statement released by the festival on Friday, board chairman David Kirk said “the festival has faced unprecedented challenges this year.”

“This has greatly increased the pressure on all board members, staff and, most importantly, the artists.”

He said the festival would undertake a review of how artists found themselves in a position where they felt compromised.

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Image to read the rest of the article 'The Israeli-Palestinian conflict explained'

“They feel compromised, a lot of them, and a lot of them are pressured to pull their performances from the festival,” Kirk told the ABC on Thursday.

“And we’re so sorry about that. It’s something we never wanted to do and never want to see happen again.”

Law said the Sydney Festival board will commission an independent review of the festival’s existing funding and practices.

“This will resume immediately following the completion of Sydney Festival 2022. Conclusions and recommendations will be ready in a few months,” he tweeted.

“Artists: your experiences will be at the center of this review. You will know more about the festival in due course. Like you, I eagerly await its conclusions.

On Friday, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance released a statement saying it had been contacted by a number of its members working at the festival “who have chosen to express their solidarity with the boycott movement by declining shifts or, where this is not possible, wearing badges or other items expressing their personal point of view”.

“It is common for arts workers to express their support and solidarity with causes that align with their values. MEAA supports the right of our members to express their personal opinions in this way in the course of their employment. part of the rich mix of expression and exchange in a vibrant creative community.”

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