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Arnolfini - est 1961

In November last year, Arnolfini made the difficult decision not to host two scheduled events as part of the Bristol Palestine Film Festival.

We recognise that this decision has been upsetting for so many and that a further lack of clarity and silence around our position and decision making led to more confusion and frustration.

We are sincerely sorry we cancelled the events. It was a decision based on the information and understanding we had at the time, but now believe it was wrong.

To our audiences, our collaborators, all artists, our friends, our staff, the signatories of the Bristol Artists for Palestine open letter and especially the artists and organisers of the Bristol Palestine Film Festival – we are truly sorry.

We genuinely acknowledge the significant impact of how this situation has been handled and that an apology is long overdue. We deeply regret the distress caused and apologise without reservation.

The ongoing devastation and loss of life in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel is abhorrent. The International Court of Justice has described Israel’s actions in Gaza as plausible acts of genocide. During this overwhelming humanitarian crisis, the voices of the victims need to be heard. Arnolfini recognises the importance of artists and their powerful voices in a complex world. We believe that freedom of expression and intellectual freedom are vital and must be fully reflected in our policies and practices. We are sorry that we did not provide a platform for Palestinian voices at such a crucial time.

What we have learnt over the past few months has guided us to find better ways to set out our programming decision making and the associated communication processes. Following a period of reflection and consultation, we are developing robust internal processes and assessing organisational structures, including a new Programming Policy that will be shared on our website once published, which we feel will best serve Arnolfini’s contributors and audiences in the future.

Arnolfini has a long history of presenting work that provides a platform for critical voices; locally, nationally and internationally, of offering a space for artists to experiment, innovate and ask challenging questions. We are committed to inclusivity and progressive social change through a diverse range of activities and partnerships and approach this position with full commitment and responsibility in our future planning and development.

We want to thank all of the individual artists, collectives and organisations that have been part of this process. We are very appreciative of the ongoing conversations taking place. We would also like to say thank you to our audiences. Your support and engagement are valued greatly by everyone at Arnolfini.

We sincerely hope that we can rebuild trust and relationships with you all.

Arnolfini is currently engaged in a mediation process with the Bristol Palestine Film Festival, Bristol Artists for Palestine and Raise the Bar. Representatives from these organisations met last week to discuss the impact of the cancellation of two film festival events and the responses that followed.  Significant progress was made during the meeting and all parties are committed to a further meeting to continue and complete this positive work; we will continue to provide updates. We would like to thank the Bristol Palestine Film Festival, Bristol Artists for Palestine and Raise the Bar for their support in this process.

Arnolfini Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team