Warner Records CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck, Gene Simmons, Daniel Glass, Others Protest Artist Boycott of Sydney Festival

Sydney Festival
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Sydney Festival
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Photo Credit: Kewal

After several artists announced a boycott of Sydney Festival, other music industry figures condemn the boycott. 

Around 30 acts have pulled out of the festival over its support for Israel. Artists are angry the festival’s board accepted a $14,300 donation from the Israeli embassy in support of “Decadance,” a show based on work by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, and dance companies from Tel Aviv and Sydney. The donation earned Israel a listing as a ‘star partner’ on the festival’s website. 

After those artists decided to cancel their appearances, 120 industry figures have signed an open letter to support the Sydney Festival.

“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 politicized,” the letter reads. Signatories of the open letter include:

  • Gene Simmons | KISS
  • Aaron Bay-Schuck | CEO, Warner Records
  • Diane Warren | Songwriter, Producer
  • Craig Emanuel | Partner, Paul Hastings LLC
  • Emile Sherman | Co-Founder, See-Saw Films
  • Rick Rosen | Co-Founder, Endeavor
  • Ben Silverman | Chairman & Co-CEO Propagate Content
  • Benjamin Adler | Violinist
  • Orly Marley | President, Tuff Gang Worldwide
  • Jacqueline Saturn | President, Virgin Music
  • Stephan Elliot | Director
  • Emmanuelle Chriqui | Actress
  • Dan Rosen | Music Executive
  • Michael Rotenberg | Partner, 3 Arts Entertainment
  • David Zedeck | Global Head of Music at UTA
  • Gary Gersh | President, Global Touring A.E.G.
  • Haim Saban | Chairman & CEO Saban Capital Group
  • Sherry Lansing | Former CEO of Paramount Pictures

The Open Letter Protesting Sydney Festival Boycott

We, the undersigned, believe that cultural events are vitally important vehicles to bring people together of different backgrounds under a shared love of the arts.

The annual Sydney Festival embodies this unifying power. Every year, thousands of Australians make common cause in a massive display of cultural exchange and celebration of our diverse cultures and histories.

Unfortunately, this year, the spirit of the Festival is under attack by those calling for a boycott because the Israeli Embassy is sponsoring a world renowned Israeli dance ensemble. This call for a boycott turns the festival from an opportunity for unity into a weapon of division.

We also reject the boycott activist claims that Jews are not indigenous to the land of Israel. The Jewish people have over a 3,000 year connection to the land of Israel, and many Jewish families have lived in the land for hundreds of generations. This fact does not deny any other groups claims of indigeneity.

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 politicized.

We believe the cultural boycott movement is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.

While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer.

As Nick Cave stated: “The cultural boycott of Israel is cowardly and shameful. Israel is a real, vibrant, functioning democracy – yes, with Arab members of parliament – and so engaging with Israelis, who vote, may be more helpful than scaring off artists or shutting down means of engagement.”

We call on all our friends and colleagues in the entertainment community to express their support for an exciting and successful Sydney Festival 2022 and to purchase a ticket and attend the festival itself to understand the power of arts to bring people together first hand.

9 Responses

  1. Bud

    Good for them. The boycott is yet another example tyrannical attacks on free speech.

    • Reality Chuck

      You have the free speech, but choose to use it to spread mistruths and misinformation that hurts your fellow man, community and country. Way to go! Nice use of your freedom. Remember, you have responsibility, as well, that allows you that freedom.

  2. Woke H

    Yes boycott some payment and not ridiculous Covid tyranny for 2 years. Musicians are the dumbest most complacent motherfuckers in the room in 2022. Absolutely pathetic

    • Joseph

      Yes, you are pathetic – spouting off lies and bs while millions get sick, and many die.

      • Dr. Fraudci

        BS. You have been manipulated by tyrants.

        Follow the science—nobody healthy dies from Covid. Omicron is laughable it is so mild. Yet, sheeple like you mask up and lock down.

        • Joseph

          You’ve been manipulated by the voices in your head. Move over reality, science, medicine and common sense. You’re a fool.

      • Vax kills

        I can say the same abt the vaccines scumbag fuck off.

        List of vaccine cancellations

        Betty white
        Bob saget

        Don’t like hearing it? Cry more you fuckin bitch

        • Idiot Detector

          Look in a mirror to see the real bitch.

          Both White and Saget got their boosters months ago.

          Keep up with the lies that are provably incorrect. You’re lame.

          • Idiot Detector

            You can keep your clot shot. It doesn’t even work.