January 03, 2007

English Ballet cannot tip-toe through BNP scandal

[If nothing else, this story has been a boon to headline writers]

The English National Ballet has been urged to clarify its position and take action in relation to recent media reports that one of its principal dancers, Simone Clarke, is a member of the British National Party (BNP).

In a letter to ENB chairman John Talbot, the Black Londoners’ Forum (BLF) has called on the board of governors to end its silence and make clear what action it intends to take in relation to Clarke’s membership of the extreme right wing organisation.

BLF chair, Karen Chouhan stated: 'People should be in no doubt about the type of organisation we are talking about and the beliefs that Clarke has chosen to support.

The constitution of the BNP is to oppose ‘any form of racial integration’ by actively working to stem and reverse ‘the tide of non-white immigration’ so as to restore ‘the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948.’

As one of the company’s principal dancers, Clarke acts as an ambassador for the ENB internationally. Chouhan said Clarke’s membership and views represent an affront to multiculturalism and is inconsistent with the ENB’s statutory race equality duty.

She added: 'We should not forget the central role that culture and the arts played in the ideology and propaganda of National Socialism during the early years of Nazi Germany, right up until the fall of the Third Reich in 1945.

'I would therefore urge the board of governors not to underestimate the gravity of this situation and the clear message that the ENB will be sending out to the world as a result of its self-imposed silence and inaction.

'I shall also be writing to the Arts Council England and the Commission for Racial Equality to ascertain their views on this matter.'


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