Musicians and workers at the English National Ballet (ENB) have reacted with outrage at the revelation that the company’s principal dancer, Simone Clarke, is a member of the fascist British National Party (BNP).
Unite Against Fascism has called a protest outside a lunchtime performance of the ballet Giselle this Friday which Clarke is performing in.
The anti-fascist campaign group is also circulating a petition condemning Clarke and calling on her to be removed from her position.
Clarke’s BNP membership was revealed by the Guardian newspaper over the Christmas break.
She responded by giving a lengthy and unrepentant interview to the Mail on Sunday, where she defended the BNP and praised its anti-immigration policies.
Many people involved in the arts world as performers or workers have contacted Unite to express their outrage at Clarke’s endorsement of the BNP.
Pressure on the ENB can force the company’s management to take a clear stand against fascism.
The Musicians’ Union has put out a statement condemning the BNP’s “attempts to portray itself as part of mainstream politics” and calling on the ENB to “act in order to maintain its position as a flagship for equality and fairness in the arts”.
“The BNP is exploiting Simone Clarke’s membership in order to promote and prettify their extreme right wing politics,” says the statement from Unite.
“Such developments are not new – historically the far right has sought the endorsement of artistic figures to attempt to normalise and disguise the reality of their politics.
“One of the many victims of the Nazi holocaust was choreographer René Blum, who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. It is in those people’s memory that we should oppose all forms of fascism.
“Those artists – and everyone else – who defend the BNP should tell us if they defend the full reality of its politics. Claims of ignorance are no defence,” the statement continues.
“We are calling on all those who have an appreciation for
the arts, music and dance to demand that the promotion of racist and fascist politics are incompatible with a leading arts institution.”
Protest against racism and fascism at the ballet. Assemble at 12 noon on Friday 12 January outside the London Coliseum,
St Martin’s Lane, London WC2.
Unite Against Fascism’s national conference will be held in central London on 17 February. Go to www.uaf.org.uk for more details