Background, facts, and our official statement about the boycott against Pop-Kultur 2018


Pop-Kultur is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe of the State of Berlin, the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF), and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Individual artists can receive support from the national cultural institute or embassy of their respective country, and this is a common practice within international cultural exchange. We cooperate with all countries officially recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany. Partners and sponsors have no influence over the programming of the festival. Our cooperation with the cultural institutions of individual countries depends on the artistic decisions made in the process of programming the festival.

As it was in 2017, Pop-Kultur has once again been declared a boycott target of the international BDS-Network (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and PACBI (Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) in 2018. The goal of this campaign is the economic, cultural, and political isolation of Israel. We have received e-mails requesting that the official cooperation with the Cultural Department of the Israeli Embassy be discontinued and that the embassy’s logo, which is included on our website as a measure of transparency and represents the travel and accommodation contribution of €1,200, be taken offline. Various artists have also received messages in which they were asked to boycott the festival. The British band Shopping, the British musician Richard Dawson & Band, and the British Band Gwenno have cancelled their performances.

We will collaborate with the Cultural Department of the Israeli embassy this year because our 2018 lineup includes three Israeli artists. We will receive a total travel and accommodation contribution of €1,200 from the embassy. Currently the Israeli embassy is one of five festival partners contributing artist and travel support. The Bureau Export is contributing €3,400 for six French artists, and the British Council is contributing £18,000 (British Pounds) to the Project “Mix the City” to be presented at Pop-Kultur.  Moreover Austrian Music Export and Music Norway support local artists with direct travel support. This type of collaboration is common at festivals, events, and exhibitions of all genres.

Pop-Kultur maintains a clear and steadfast position: We are not intimidated by boycotts. If there are artists who don’t want to perform at our festival because we receive travel and accommodation support from the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we very much regret that. However, the boycott, the refusal to perform, is not our decision. We are always open to having constructive dialogues. It’s important to us to support the freedom of artistic and verbal expression and to seek out meaningful exchange in this context. We believe that discourse and dialogue are the only means through which to deal with conflicts in this world. We as cultural workers have a special responsibility for establishing networks across borders, even when we disagree.


UPDATE 05.06.18: John Maus and band have cancelled their show at Pop-Kultur. They »prefer not to play within a politicised setting« (John Maus).

UPDATE 13.06.18: Nadine Shah has cancelled her show at Pop-Kultur. Her British agency writes: »None of us could have foreseen the events of 14th May on the Gaza/Israel border when this booking was agreed. Force majeure.«

UPDATE 09.07.18: Alun Woodward (Chemikal Underground) has cancelled his »Mix The City« talk: »In the present climate and in particular because of recent events I’m not wanting to be involved«.