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Actors, directors and Grammy winners call for Palestinian event to be reinstated

April 2, 2024 at 1:35 pm

An outside view of the HOME Cinema, Theatre and Art Gallery in Manchester on 7 March 2024 [@HOME_mcr/X]

Almost 300 people from the world of theatre have called upon the UK venue HOME to reinstate an event due to feature the voices of genocide survivors from Gaza. The call has been made in a letter released by Artists for Palestine UK. The Manchester arts centre was set to host “Voices of Resilience: A Celebration of Gazan Writing” this month, but pulled the event citing concern for its staff, audiences and artists.

Now, an open letter signed by over 300 artists from the world of theatre and film – including Maxine Peake, Asif Kapadia, Pooja Ghai, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and April De Angelis – urges HOME to reconsider and cites its commitment to anti-racism, including anti-Palestinian racism. Grammy award-winning director Asif Kapadia is a patron of HOME.

“HOME has contributed to the silencing of Palestinian voices at a time when they most need to be heard,” say the signatories. “More than 32,000 people have been murdered in Gaza in just six months, including 13,000 children. Suppressing those who speak of this experience is a form of genocide denial.”

The letter points out that HOME claims to be a “politically neutral” space. “However, to remain neutral on the subject of a textbook case of genocide, as legal experts including Holocaust scholars have called it, is to enable the violence of occupation, oppression and murder. To cancel an event based on the ethnicity and nationality of its participants is discrimination, which directly contradicts HOME’s stated commitment to ‘anti-racism, equality and diversity’.”

The theatre-makers, filmmakers, artists and cultural workers, many of whom have had work staged at HOME, condemned the “cowardly” decision to silence the voices of Palestinians and to contribute to their erasure during the ongoing genocide. “We believe this decision sends a message to other arts organisations, suggesting that Palestinian voices can or should be silenced. All arts institutions should fulfil their legal and moral obligations to uphold freedom of expression and anti-discrimination. HOME has failed on both counts.”

The signatories made it clear that they stand in solidarity with the staff at HOME, especially the front of house staff, many of whom share the outrage that this event has been cancelled. “An event organised by brilliant Palestinian Mancunians,” they added.

Playwright James Harker, who drafted the open letter with support from Artists for Palestine UK and other signatories, said that it is important for Palestinians to have a voice. “HOME’s actions shame Manchester and they shame the arts world,” he insisted.

A statement on HOME’s website claimed that, while it is committed to welcoming the full range of artist expression, its concern for the team at HOME, our audiences and artists, and their safety is paramount. “In the face of recent publicity around ‘Voices of Resilience’, we have cancelled this event.” Nevertheless, it added, “Our purpose of supporting a wide variety of artists and the audiences who want to experience them remains unchanged.”

READ: 138 journalists killed in Gaza