Tychy has today received an open letter signed by fifty of Scotland’s leading arts figures, including the national poet Liz Lochhead, the writer Alasdair Gray, the playwright David Greig and the theatre director Ben Harrison. It makes a compelling case for boycotting the entire Edinburgh Fringe.
We the undersigned… write in protest against the continuation of the so-called “Edinburgh Fringe.” Although ostensibly an arts festival, the Fringe actually receives over 3 million pounds worth of grants and subsidies from the Scottish government, which is fully signed up to the current brutal assault upon the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, the country formally known as Iraq, and anybody else who happens to live within a mile of a “targeted” drone assassination. The Fringe also attracts revenue from thousands of American tourists and it hosts the “American High School Theatre Festival”: a grave error in light of America’s 390 drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2008 and their 2,400+ casualties.
The Scottish government uses the international ventures of its artists to attempt to lend itself a sense of cultural legitimacy and to distract attention from the brutality of policies which it has supported in the past, through the sheer number of Scots fighting on the ground in Afghanistan; and which it will probably support in the future, with its desperation to join NATO after a vote for independence.
We are leading the international community in opposing the international community. Moreover, since Liz Lochhead is the “national poet” of a country which is hated around the world for its military interventions, she is bravely boycotting herself. She is refusing to talk to herself and she is immediately putting everything that she writes through the shredder. The Traverse Theatre has also made the brave decision to return all of its government funding, and we are outraged that it was consequently spent on a missile which was fired at a wedding in Afghanistan (with 33 unforeseen civilian casualties).
It might seem that our logic is the best way of destroying an arts festival, but destroying our very important arts festival will surely make the government sit up and listen, in a way that accidentally bombing Red Cross hospitals never did.
It’s a little thing – barely worth mentioning in the context of the above – but there’s also a show entitled ‘The City,’ by the Israeli company Incubator Theater, which is being staged at the Underbelly on the 30th July. We would go on about the killings in Gaza, but this might appear a wee bit hypocritical in light of all the murder committed by our own governments which we have pompously overlooked.
Liz Lochhead, Alistair Gray, and lots of others who you haven’t heard of.
[Previously on Tychy: Why Batsheva Should Keep Dancing.]