Sponsorship controversy for Sydney Festival

The Sydney Festival’s decision to keep a $20,000 sponsorship deal from the Israeli embassy has sparked a major controversy including a mass exodus from artists and an apology from festival chair David Kirk over the handling of the affair.

The embassy is a main sponsor for choreographer Ohad Naharin’s piece Decadance.

More than 100 artists and crew joined the festival boycott, according to Palestinian poet Sarah Saleh.

Kirk said the festival had bungled the affair would undertake a review of how they got into the position in the first place.

Kirk said he was “sorry” many of the artists “are being pressurised to withdraw their performances from the festival”

“That is something we would never have wanted to do and we never want to see happen again,” he told the ABC.

Kirk said the festival had not anticipated the fallout from accepting money from the Israeli embassy.

“I guess we just missed it,” he said.

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