LPSC Statement – Chapel Allerton Arts Festival stall ban

We are writing to express our deep disappointment at the decision of the organising committee of the Chapel Allerton Arts Festival to ban all political/campaigning groups from having a presence at this years festival. These organisations have been part of the festival over the years since its beginning and have contributed to the success of the festival

We know that the main reason for this ban has been the wholly unreasonable objection made by a small number of vociferous opponents of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to its presence at the festival over the past few years culminating in a disgraceful attack on those running the stall last year. Whether you sympathise with the aims of the PSC or not is irrelevant. It is a legal and peaceful campaign group which aims to inform and engage people in conversation over the long standing injustice suffered by the Palestinian people over many years. By capitulating to a small group of intimidating, intolerant and bigoted individuals what message are the festival organisers sending out to the community? What happened to free speech, tolerance and inclusivity?

We understand that the organising committee, rather than admit openly that it is the PSC that they want to ban, have decided to ban all political/campaigning groups in the hope, presumably, that this will avoid the decision being seen as discriminatory to one campaigning group. This is not only disingenuous but it has upset a range of groups and individuals who have supported the festival for many years but who cannot condone this unreasonable and unfair decision.

Finally we would take issue with your spurious argument that the decision to ban political groups and campaigning organisations is based on the fact that the festival is an arts festival. Really! Where do you draw the line between politics and art? Both include expanding the imagination, stimulate debate and contest conventional thinking.

We hope that the organising committee will reconsider its indefensible decision.

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign

 

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