Salford’s Lowry forced to impose first ever lockdown to prevent anti-Israel protests over ‘Palestinian blood’

By Sophie Arnold

The Lowry was put on ‘lock down’ in a bid to prevent protests disrupting at an Israeli dance performance for the first ever time, it was revealed this week.

The extra security measures were implemented prior to the shows on Saturday and Sunday night, the first time ever the theatre has had to use them.  

Fears were sparked after a recent performance in Edinburgh by the Batsheva Ensemble was disrupted by protests from anti-Israel groups.

A spokesman for the Lowry said they were aware that there had been disturbances at previous performances by Batsheva.

“Ensuring the comfort and enjoyment of our audience is paramount, and we put in place additional operational procedures to ensure any disturbances were kept to minimum,” he said.

During the hour long lock downs, not even Lowry staff were allowed in or out and only ticket holders were granted entry to the building for the performance.

The theatre employed extra security staff and pre-warned ticket holders that bag searches were to be carried out to ensure their own enjoyment.

Around 75 protesters were present outside the building but Greater Manchester Police ensured the protest did not get out of hand.

The spokesman said the close working relationship with GMP allowed the Lowry to identify likely protesters and refuse admission before the performance.

He said: “There were a total of three peaceful protests inside the venue which lasted no more than a few seconds each time.”

Manchester’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign were distributing leaflets at the entrance to the Lowry and is taking credit for a poor turn out to the show.

Their website states: “We made sure every single one of the attendees knew that they had Palestinian blood on their tickets.”

The Lowry disagrees, however, and claims there were standing ovations on both nights and they have received a positive response as to the artistic quality of the show.

They said that audience figures compared favourably with previous large-scale contemporary dance events, with a wide-ranging base of attendees.

The ensemble consists of 16 dancers aged 18 to 24 and is part of the bigger Batsheva Dance Company.

They performed the ‘Deca Dance’, set to an eclectic mix of, amongst others, Vivaldi and Goldfrapp.

The Batsheva Dance Company is a multi-ethnic group and the choreographer, Ohid Naharin, has openly voiced his disagreements with the Israeli Government.

Mr Naharin said: “I like to take pieces or sections of existing works and rework it, reorganise it and create the possibility of seeing it from a new angle.”

The company has received criticism from Orthodox groups for a routine that involves stripping off to a Passover song.

However, Batsheva are part of ‘Brand Israel’, a concept intended to raise a positive profile of Israel through cultural performances across the globe.

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