Harvey McCue, Board Chair, Ontario Heritage Trust
Maria Shclover, Board Chair, Cherry Orchard Festival, New York City
J. Kevin McMahon, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh
Scott Shiller, Festival Producer and Vice President of Artistic Planning, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh
Dear Mr. McCue, Ms. Shclover, Mr. McMahon, and Mr. Shiller,
We are supporters of the arts and social justice, writing to express serious concern about the fact that the Ontario Heritage Trust in Toronto (September 29, 30), the Cherry Orchard Festival in New York (October 3, 4, 6 and 7), and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (October 11-13), will be hosting performances by the Gesher Theatre of Israel, performances that the Gesher Theatre and your own websites say are sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These performances support the Israeli government in implementing its systematic “Brand Israel” strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state’s decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation, and denial of Palestinian refugees’ right of return. In addition, Gesher Theatre itself has been complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, as we describe in more detail below. Therefore we call on the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Cherry Orchard Festival and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust not to host the Gesher Theatre, or partner with the Israeli government.