Bristol’s Watershed Moment

24 10 2015

Watershed

Bristol’s Watershed Arts Centre was recently censured by the Charity Commission for failing to observe political balance in its programming.

From recent activity it’s not clear it’s learned the lesson.

Watershed is run as a charity which means it has to follow rules on political neutrality. It also receives substantial public funding from Bristol City Council, the Arts Council and the National Heritage Lottery Fund amongst others. It’s a substantial operation turning over £5 million per year.

The complaint that led to the reprimand focused on their ‘annual’ Palestine Film Festival which is actually more frequent than that; with subsidiary Palestine Film festivals during the year. The tone is monotonous anti-Israel activism.

The Senior Charity Commission Case Officer Mazeda Alam told Watershed that:

the charity has either strayed into political activity, or has enabled this perception to be reached, through events such as the opening night of the 2012 Palestinian Film Festival . We consider that the discussion as recorded on the transcript you provided was not representative of the divergent views on the subject, and that it strayed away from content related to the charity’s objects (film as visual art) into expressions of political views.

Watershed got off lightly; for some reason the charity commission chose not to engage with the following serious allegations:

  • A curator who glamourises terrorists (Annemarie Jacir – see p.10 & p.16 of the dossier to the Charity Commission);
  • A host who vilifies Jews (Bidisha – see p.9);
  • Describing a film which features terrorists as ‘beautiful and intimate (Saken – see p.14);
  • A film funded by a terrorist organisation with the screenplay written by a senior member of that terrorist organisation without any context beyond hailing it as a ‘rarely seen gem (PFLP – see p.15);
  • Complicity in excluding Israeli funding where it suits them; where the film is not anti-Israel (Encounters v Villa Touma – see p.18);
  • Removal of all details of previous festivals to prevent scrutiny. (see p.6)

All contained in a thorough dossier which can be read by clicking here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bristol Doesn’t ❤ Israel

18 03 2012

Category; Politics, Middle East, Bristol

Time to revisit something from 2010. In June of that year an Israel boycott motion was passed by Bristol City Council (click here for the motion).

I watched  the debate on a webcast and found it monumentally depressing. I edited the webcast (keeping all the speakers who spoke on the topic and all their points).

Here’s that video: Read the rest of this entry »





Funny Money?

11 01 2012

Category; Politics, Finance, Bristol

Bristol Council, in the South West of Britain, seems to have money trouble. It’s been revealed by the BBC that it is planning to raise £50 million in debt to finance a variety of projects – click here for  the BBC website report.

That’s £50 million for the ratepayers of tomorrow, and for years to come, to pay for. Read the rest of this entry »





Still At It

1 12 2011

Category; Finance, Politics, Bristol

It takes a throwaway remark by a part-time local politician in one of Britain’s smaller cities to illustrate that while the eurozone crumbles and the Western world’s economy  faces deep recession, no lessons have been learned.

They are still at it.

The councillor responsible for transport in Bristol was talking about a new scheme to charge visitors to park their cars where it currently is free. This is what he had to say to the local BBC:

“He hoped the move would raise some £200,000 per year – allowing £3m in capital to be raised.”

BBC News 26 November 2011 – click here for the report; Ashton Court Parking

So how does £200,000 turn into £3 million? I’ve already discussed how this works here and then here, and here it is in operation. Read the rest of this entry »