Benjamin Law Resigns From Sydney Festival Board Due To Israel Embassy Sponsorship | Sydney Film Festival 2022

Benjamin Law, a member of the Sydney festival’s board of directors, resigned following the festival’s refusal to end a $ 20,000 sponsorship agreement with the Israeli embassy.

In a statement released by the festival on Friday afternoon, writer and screenwriter Law said:

“Today’s decision to leave the board is up to me. I am only comfortable leaving now because I have full confidence in the remaining Trustees for the process ahead, and I remain a staunch fan and supporter of Olivia Ansell’s vision of a reactivated and vibrant Sydney.

Law is expected to issue a full statement at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

The festival’s announcement of Law’s departure was signed by Board Chairman David Kirk, who acknowledged that the festival had “faced unprecedented challenges this year”, particularly from Covid-19 and the Palestinian boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement.

“This has dramatically increased the pressure on all board members, staff and most importantly the artists,” Kirk’s statement said.

Dozens of artists withdrew from the Sydney 2022 festival thanks to the $ 20,000 sponsorship of the Israeli Embassy for the Sydney Dance Company’s production Decadance, a work designed by Tel Aviv choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Kirk admitted in an interview with The Guardian on Thursday that the board was unaware of the sponsorship deal, negotiated by festival management in July of last year, until the festival program be published at the end of November with the logo of the Israeli embassy.

“It was just a dud,” he told The Guardian, adding that he regretted the distress the sponsorship decision had caused artists.

Kirk ruled out the suggestion that either he or festival director Olivia Ansell should step down on the matter, which put many artists under pressure on social media, or because they decided to quit. join the boycott, either because they had decided to continue their scheduled performances.

Kirk said normal processes were followed, but those processes would be reviewed independently following the controversy.

Kirk thanked Law for his service on Friday, describing him as “an insightful and well-regarded member” of the board since his arrival in 2020.

“As we worked through the intricacies of this year’s festival, he has been a thoughtful and consistent voice as we collectively come to our position,” Kirk said.

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