Nazeem Hussain has withdrawn from the Sydney Festival.

High-profile figures join Sydney Festival boycott over Israeli funding

The number of artists and ensembles boycotting the 2022 Sydney Festival over the festival’s decision to take $20,000 in funding from the Israeli embassy has now blown out to eight and includes high-profile artist Khaled Sabsabi and comedian and TV personality Nazeem Hussein.

Up-and-coming Indigenous rapper Barkaa and dance ensemble Bindi Bosses are also boycotting the event, joining Arab Theatre Studio, Bankstown Poetry Slam and journalist Amy McQuire, who announced earlier that they were quitting.

The Israeli funding is to be used by the festival to stage a Sydney Opera House performance by Sydney Dance Company of work by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Khaled Sabsabi won the Blake Prize in 2011 and has built an international reputation for his video installations and other work. A large survey exhibition is currently being installed at Campbelltown Arts Centre under the umbrella of Sydney Festival. Sabsabi said that while the exhibition A Hope would still go ahead, he was cutting all ties with the festival.

“I’ve decided to withdraw from the Sydney Festival out of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” he said. “That’s how I feel about it. The Sydney Festival’s decision is their decision.”

Campbelltown Arts Centre director Michael Dagostino said he supported Sabsabi’s decision but wouldn’t comment on Sydney Festival’s fundraising policy.

Read the article by Nick Galvin in The Sydney Morning Herald.