Artists and writers have condemned the decision by Manchester’s HOME Theatre to cancel an event celebrating Palestinian writers.

On March 27, the Manchester theatre and arts centre announced it would be cancelling a planned event: Voices of Resilience, A Celebration of Gazan Writing.

Organisers Comma Press said it was disappointed with HOME's decision to cancel the event which was due to take place on 22 April. 

Comma Press also spoke out against claims about a Palestinian writer saying these were ‘utterly false.’

On Saturday pro Palestine protestors made their feelings heard at a protest outside the theatre.

Now in an open letter to the HOME Theatre, artists and writers said: “In this way HOME has contributed to the silencing of Palestinian voices at a time when they most need to be heard. More than 32,000 people have been murdered in Gaza in just six months, including 13,000 children. Suppressing those who speak of this experience is a form of genocide denial.”

It adds: “As theatremakers, filmmakers, artists and cultural workers, many of whom have had work staged at HOME, we condemn this cowardly decision to silence the voices of Palestinians and to contribute to their erasure during an ongoing genocide. 

“We believe this decision sends a message to other arts organisations, suggesting that Palestinian voices can or should be silenced. All arts institutions should fulfil their legal and moral obligations to uphold freedom of expression and anti-discrimination. HOME has failed on both counts.

“To be clear: we stand in solidarity with the staff at HOME, especially the front of house staff, many of whom share our outrage that this event has been cancelled.”

The letter calls for HOME to reinstate Voices of Resilience, A Celebration of Gazan Writing as part of its programme. For HOME to ‘apologise and explains how and why the decision to cancel Voices of Resilience was taken’. 

It also asks for HOME to detail what steps will be taken to repair its commitment to anti-racism, including anti-Palestinian racism.

Bolton based playwright James Harker was one of those who signed the letter. He said: “I've had work on at HOME as part of PUSH Festival on 2018. I've always loved HOME and was there for its opening weekend in 2015.

"When I saw that HOME was hosting Voices of Resilience, an event let by Palestinians and addressing the current genocide in Gaza, I felt proud to live in a city with the courage to give a platform to genocide survivors: including the brilliant Mohammed Ghalayini who was due to be speaking at the event.

“On the day I heard that HOME had cancelled Voices Of Resilience, I also learnt that the Israeli military had bombed my friend's home in Northern Gaza, murdering his sister-in-law in the same house where they have already murdered three generations of his family since October 7.

"This is the reality of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. And silencing the voices of genocide survivors, in my eyes, is tantamount to genocide denial.”

He added: “By cancelling this event, HOME has chosen to silence the voices of Palestinians at the time they most need to be heard. It has chosen to remain “politically neutral” in the face of an ongoing genocide. HOME's actions shame Manchester and they shame the arts world.”

The HOME Theatre was contacted for comment.