September 20 2014 Latest news:
Myron Jobson, Reporter
Monday, August 11, 2014
A Conservative councillor has launched an investigation into whether the Tricycle Theatre breached its charitable status by refusing to host a Jewish event amid the conflict in Gaza.
The playhouse in Kilburn High Road, which receives £198,000-a-year funding from Brent Council, came under fire for its decision not to host the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) because it is sponsored by the Israeli Embassy.
Indhu Rubasingham, the theatre’s artistic director, said they would not accept financial support from any government agency involved in the crisis, but claims alternative funding was offered to the festival’s organisers.
The event, which screens at least 26 films, has taken place at the theatre for seven years.
Cllr John Warren, leader of Brondesbury Park Conservative, told the Times he will probe the theatre’s decision further, with his party colleagues, because of the funding it receives from Brent Council.
He said: “We disagree with artistic discrimination, and as such disagree with the Tricycle decision to cancel the Israeli Film Festival.
“Our agreement with the theatre is to fund an outreach programme of education and social inclusion to help better the community we live in.
“I am, with others, looking at whether the Tricycle has in any way breached its charitable status and whether there is any breach in the funding agreement with Brent.
“The council has an interest so it can’t stand idly by.
Last week more then 100 people protested outside the theatre in Kilburn against its decision.
Darren Borg, co-founder of Campaign Against Antisemitism UK, which organised the demonstration said: “It’s a cultural event not a political one. The festival not only shows Israeli films but Palestinians films which are critical of the Israeli government.”
“This is a massive event on the Jewish social calendar so it is a big snub to our community. Why do we have to suffer?”
Cllr Warren has also called on Cllr Muhammed Butt, the leader of the council, to make a public statement about the issue.
He said: “I do not want to tell him what to say, I simply want him to express his view.
“Does he agree or disagree with the Tricycle decision?
“Brent residents are entitled to know.”
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, told the Times the council will continue to fund the theatre.
Adding it would be inappropriate to comment on the theatre’s decision, he said: “People have come to the borough escaping conflict abroad so I cannot be seen to support different viewpoints where there is suffering on both sides because it wouldn’t be fair on these individuals.”