Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Sydney Festival Chair David Kirk apologises for event’s handling of Israeli funding

Sydney Festival Chair David Kirk apologises for event’s handling of Israeli funding
January 13, 2022

Sydney Festival Chair David Kirk has apologised for the event's handling of a funding controversy which saw a number of artists and organisations withdraw from the Festival over the Festival’s acceptance of $20,000 sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy to stage Decadence - a collaboration between Sydney Dance Company and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company.

Kirk acknowledged the festival's acceptance of the funding had put some artists in a very difficult position noting "they feel compromised, many of them, and many of them are being pressurised to withdraw their performances from the festival.

"And we're very sorry about that. That is something we would never have wanted to do and we never want to see happen again."

Kirk confirmed it was festival management who approached the Israeli embassy to support Decadance and that he first learned of the funding when he saw the Israeli embassy logo on the printed program adding "I guess we just missed it. I mean, that's all we can say.”

While Sydney Festival regularly accepts sponsorship from foreign embassies and cultural agencies, Kirk advised that the Festival had not considered the ramifications of accepting funding from the Israeli embassy - especially where artists were left feeling unsafe and compromised.

The Sydney Festival Board decided to keep the money with Kirk rejecting the suggestion that the way to quell dissent among festival participants and the wider community might be to return the $20,000 sponsorship to the Israeli government.

Kirk said neither he, the festival’s director Olivia Ansell, nor anyone else would be resigning over the issue, and that the board's current focus was putting on the festival.

"I'm not trying to hide from the fact that this was a mess," Kirk said.

"We should have understood, we should have been prepared to debate this much more fully at the time but we didn't."

Kirk advised private talks had been held between the Festival and those artists and organisations who chose to boycott the event.

Image: David Kirk inset; Decadance - a collaboration between Sydney Dance Company and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company. Credit Sydney Festival

Related Articles

5th January 2022 - Sydney Festival issues statement on escalating boycott over Israeli embassy funding

26th December 2021 - Israeli Embassy sponsorship prompts withdrawals from Sydney Festival

17th November 2021 - Sydney Festival 2022 to inspire and entertain with more than 130 events

2nd June 2020 - Sydney Festival names Olivia Ansell as new Festival Director for 2022

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Commercial Aquatics Australia provides aquatic solutions nationwide and is one of the largest and most experienced companies specialising in the design, construction, renovation, service, maintenance…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks


TJS Services

TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide.  Our…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Venues


Felton Industries

Felton Industries is Australia’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of quality outdoor furniture and has been supplying premium seating solutions for all sporting, commercial, community…

read more

Parks / Play / Recreation / Sport / Venues


Summit Fitness

Summit Fitness Equipment is now part of NovoFit - see

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Technology / Wellness


Centaman Entrance Control

Turnstile Entry Systems and Access Control Centaman Entrance Controls’ Award Winning Range of Access Control Systems includes tripod & triarm turnstiles, speedgates, full height…

read more

Access / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues


Aflex Inflatables

Aflex Inflatables are the leaders for obstacle courses, pool toys, waterparks and land-based watersides and fitness runs. They are industry leaders offering the widest range of pool, lake and beach…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Waterparks



As of the 1st July 2018, Enta Australasia Pty Ltd/Best Union has been rebranded as Vivaticket Pty Ltd.  Vivaticket is the ideal strategic partner for the organisation and management of your…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business