Melbourne funk/soul band Karate Boogaloo are the latest act to withdraw from Sydney Festival’s 2022 lineup, as part of an ongoing cultural boycott of the festival.
In a statement, shared yesterday (January 3), the band showed solidarity with the boycott – which stems from the festival receiving funding from the Israeli Embassy, which is reportedly a $20,000 sponsorship deal. The band have cancelled their performance as part of the festival, which was set to take place at Speakers Corner on January 13.
“Boycotts and divestments have a strong track record of holding governments and corporations accountable for their actions,” they wrote.
“Karate Boogaloo is standing in solidarity with Palestinian people, and boycotting the Sydney Festival as a result of it accepting money from the human rights abusing regime that is the Israeli Government.”
The band ended the statement by apologising to Sydney fans and promising they would return to the city soon. Read it below:
“We as a nation live in a time where we should know better, so we should do better,” she wrote at the time.
Earlier today, the DJ and radio host Deepa – who was due to appear on a warm-up programme curated by the label Future Classic – also announced her withdrawal from Sydney Festival.
The festival itself, meanwhile, has today shared its own statement in response to the ongoing boycott, saying that it would review its practices with regards to “funding from foreign governments or related parties”.
“The Sydney Festival Board wishes collectively to affirm its respect for the right of all groups to protest and raise concerns,” the Sydney Festival board wrote.
“We spent time with a number of groups who have concerns about this funding, and welcomed the opportunity to engage with them. All funding agreements for the current Festival… will be honoured, and the performances will proceed.
“At the same time, the Board has also determined it will review its practices in relation to funding from foreign governments or related parties.”
The festival has also acknowledged the artists partaking in the boycott, adding that it “respect[s] the right of any artist to withdraw.”
“[We] hope that they will feel able to participate in future festivals,” they wrote.
In December, the Israel Embassy in Canberra issued a statement to the Guardian regarding the boycott. “Israel has always and will continue to promote cultural exchange and engage in cultural dialogue in numerous countries including Australia,” it read.
“Culture is a bridge to coexistence, cooperation and rapprochement and should be left out of the political arena.”