Wellington band Fat Freddy’s Drop will not appear at the Sydney Festival, but it has nothing to do with Israel’s sponsorship of the fest.
Wellington band Fat Freddy’s Drop will not be performing at the Sydney Festival on January 18, “due to Covid travel restrictions continuing across the Tasman”.
The announcement was posted to the band’s social media on Sunday afternoon.
“We have negotiated that the postponement date will be Freddy’s own show, completely independent of the Sydney Festival,” the post said.
“Freddys are continuing to work directly with Hordern Pavilion to secure a postponement date.” (sic)
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Aussie fans were asked to “hold tight” as tickets to the festival show will likely remain valid for the future show.
While the postponement follows a public call by activist John Minto for the band to boycott the festival, on the grounds organisers had accepted AU$20,000 (NZ$21,170) sponsorship from the Australian Israeli embassy, representatives for the band did not want to comment on that issue.
Due to current travel restrictions and limited MIQ spaces for returning Kiwis, it seemed unlikely that the seven-piece band and their entourage would easily be able to travel to Sydney and back for one show, boycott or not.
Speaking on Sunday, band member Joe Lindsay said it was, “definitely a complicated scenario”.
It’s not the first time Covid has scuppered the band’s performance plans.
A planned nationwide tour, set for September 2021, was postponed due to Covid and the national lockdown. The tour is now planned for May, 2022, starting in Wellington.
The band was able to play two shows in December: Summer Haze in Tauranga and a New Year’s Eve gig at Rhythm and Alps in Wānaka.
The show in Sydney would have been the first time the band have played internationally since their European tour in 2020.
On Sunday, activist and Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) chairman John Minto called on the band to boycott the Sydney Festival as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The AU$20,000 sponsorship from the Israeli embassy is for the Sydney Dance Company’s production of Decadance by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. No Israeli sponsorship was involved in the Fat Freddy’s event.
Minto said the Palestinian people had called for boycott action to be taken against Israel. It was up to the rest of the world to show solidarity with Palestinians, “which can help to bring into this suffering in the Middle East”.
“It’s not anti-Semitic. This is about the policies of the Israeli government, which are appalling.
“We protested against South Africa, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, because of its apartheid policies, we’re doing the same thing with Israel.”
To date, about 25 local and international acts have pulled out of the Sydney Festival as part of the boycott, according to Australian theatre magazine Limelight.co.au.
They include artist Khaled Sabsabi, comedian and TV personality Nazeem Hussein, comic Tom Ballard, and DJ Deepa. Minto hoped more would follow.
He said he understood boycotting the festival “will be hard” for the Kiwi band, but boycotting Israeli sponsorship was crucial in the fight against Palestinian oppression.
“It’s time to step up. I know that it will be uncomfortable. I know that it won’t be easy, but it’s important for you to join the international boycott of the apartheid policies of Israel.”
The Sydney Festival opened on January 6 and runs till January 30. Fat Freddy’s Drop were scheduled to perform at the Hordern Pavilion on January 18.