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Actress Maureen Lipman: 'Jewish festival won't be able to return to Tricycle next year'

PUBLISHED: 11:47 20 August 2014 | UPDATED: 17:14 20 August 2014

Maureen Lipman. Picture: PA Wire/Ian West.

Maureen Lipman. Picture: PA Wire/Ian West.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Actress Maureen Lipman believes the Tricycle Theatre's decision to boycott an annual Jewish film festival has been so damaging to community relations that the festival will not be able to return next year.

Protest outside Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn following refusal to host Jewish film festival over Gaza conflict. Picture: Nigel SuttonProtest outside Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn following refusal to host Jewish film festival over Gaza conflict. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The 68-year-old, a star of stage and screen, believes the theatre’s U-turn last week - when it announced it had “withdrawn its objection” to the UK Jewish Film Festival’s sponsorship from the Israeli embassy - will not ease the furore it created anytime soon.

She told the Ham&High: “There is a very large and cogent anti-Israel feeling around that part of the world and they will have made it impossible for the festival to go ahead.

“I don’t think the Kilburn police could have policed it. I don’t think they’ll host it next year. I’m very distressed and haunted by this, I’m worried and baffled.

“It was a stupid and untimely gesture and I’m glad they’ve had the good sense to realise it was badly timed in the face of rising anti-Semitism and I’m very relieved that they can see they are in an impossible position.”

The playhouse, in Kilburn High Road, came under fire for refusing to host the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) earlier this month unless it relinquished sponsorship from the Israeli embassy, claiming that alternative funding had been offered to festival organisers and rejected.

Indhu Rubasingham, the theatre’s artistic director, insisted the Tricycle would not accept money from any government agency involved in the Gaza conflict between Hamas and Israel.

But last Friday, the theatre announced it had “withdrawn its objection” and “invited back” the UKJFF in the wake of anger from the Jewish community. However, the festival will not be held at the theatre this year.

A joint statement by the UKJFF and the theatre said: “Some weeks ago the UKJFF fell out, very publicly, with the Tricycle over a condition imposed by the Tricycle regarding funding.

“This provoked considerable public upset. Both organisations have come together to end that.

“Following lengthy discussions between the Tricycle and UKJFF, the Tricycle has now withdrawn its objection and invited back the UK Jewish Film Festival on the same terms as in previous years with no restrictions on funding from the Embassy of Israel in London.

“The UKJFF and the Tricycle have agreed to work together to rebuild their relationship and, although the festival is not able to return in 2014, we hope to begin the process of rebuilding trust and confidence with a view to holding events in the future.”

The U-turn came days after reports that one of the Tricycle’s donors had ended his five-year relationship with the theatre over the decision. It also followed a protest outside the theatre by more than 100 people on August 7.

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