BRISBANE, Australia – Tropical F * ck Storm has found itself at the center of a whole different kind of storm after the experimental rock band withdrew from their Sydney Festival commitments to protest the sponsorship deal of the event with the Israeli Embassy.
As the annual event kicked off Thursday, January 6, the award-winning Melbourne group called on organizers to “do the right thing and fix the problem they created”, highlighting a A $ 20,000 sponsorship deal. who could see participating artists “become the targets of online harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, ridiculous accusations, false claims and abuse by complete strangers,” said an official statement.
According to The Guardian, the Israeli Embassy in Canberra sponsored Decadance, a show designed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company, and co-presented by the Sydney Dance Company.
At the time of publication, the Sydney Festival “has said it has no intention of returning the money or severing the sponsorship relationship,” the TFS statement continues, “even though the shitty sandwich they are in have landed each billed artist is clearly obvious to them. “
(the Israeli Embassy, ââwhich donated a paltry sum of $ 20,000 to a dance group).
Rather than immediately announcing online that we would be jumping ship, we thought we would try to do something in the real world for everyone involved and try to encourage the Sydney Festival to do the right thing.
– tropical fuck storm (@tfs_theband) January 6, 2022
Founded by fellow The Drones Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin, the group canceled both of their planned appearances at the festival, citing a “complete lack of respect and integrity towards the artists charged” to the annual event and its partners .
A boycott has gathered pace since December 2021, with TFS one of 30 featured artists, companies and speakers taking a stand. “I have made the decision to withdraw from the Sydney Festival,” writes Brisbane artist Hope D, who was due to perform at the 2022 edition. “I stand alongside the Palestinian people and fully support freedom of the Palestine. All tickets will be refunded and I will be back in Eora / Sydney very soon.
TFS, of which Deep states won the ARIA award for best hard rock or heavy metal album last year, is one of the most prominent contemporary music groups to be released.
As the storm brewed, some 120 entertainment industry figures signed an open letter, arguing that “the organizers of the boycott are intentionally distorting the truth about Israel and making provocative statements.”
Published by Creative Community For Peace, the letter is signed by Gene Simmons of KISS; songwriter Diane Warren; Aaron Bay-Schuck, CEO / Co-Chairman Warner Records et al.
âWe, the undersigned, believe that the Sydney Festival’s cultural boycott movement is an affront to Palestinians and Israelis who strive to advance peace through compromise, exchange and mutual recognition,â the letter continued. . âAlthough we all have different opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the solution. “
It reads: “Although art may reflect politics and artists may choose to reflect their politics in their own art, art should never become subject to politics and artists and cultural events should never become subject to politics. should never be forced to be politicized. ”
Festival organizers have repeatedly backed his controversial decision to continue his production of Decadance. Earlier on Tuesday, the Sydney festival board issued a second statement, noting that “all funding agreements for the current festival – including for Decadance – will be honored and performances will continue.”
At the same time, his statement continued, “the board has also determined that it will review its practices with respect to funding by foreign governments or related parties.”
The Sydney Festival is scheduled to end on January 30.