The Watershed arts centre is run as a charity, which means it has to follow rules on political neutrality. It also receives substantial public funding (£104,906 pa) from Bristol City Council, the Arts Council and the National Lottery Fund.
Following a complaint concerning its 'annual' Palestine Film Festival - which is actually more frequent, since there are subsidiary film festivals during the year - the centre has been reprimanded by the Charity Commission for failing to observe its rules on political balance.
Senior Charity Commission case officer Mazeda Alam told Watershed: "The charity has either strayed into political activity, or has enabled this perception to be reached, through events such as the opening night of the Palestinian Film Festival.
"We consider that the discussion as recorded on the transcript you provided was not representative of the divergent views on the subject, and that it strayed away from content related to the charity's objects (film as visual art) into expressions of political views."
Now, former Bristol Tory leader Councillor Richard Eddy has submitted a written question to Mayor Ferguson, to be asked at the councillors' question-time prior to Full Council on Tuesday, 10th November 2015, seeking the Mayor's reaction to the Charity Commission judgement and his active intervention in the row.
Cllr Eddy (Con, Bishopsworth) said: "The latest Charity Commission censure of the Watershed comes after concerns over many years about the political-balance of programming at the arts centre and, in particular, the persistent anti-Israel bias.
"Shockingly, there has been a huge increase in crimes and discrimination against Jewish people in Britain and Europe in recent years, often camouflaged under the guise of adopting political opposition to Israel.
"I am saddened to discover this blatant bias has now been found at the heart of Bristol's cultural scene - and confirmed officially by the Charity Commission's written reprimand against the Watershed.
"I hope to hear from the Mayor that he completely disapproves of this poisonous attitude and will be seeking to ensure there is no repetition of this at December's programmed Palestinian Film Festival."
CONTACT Richard Eddy tel: 0117-9646455.
Question from Councillor Richard Eddy to the Mayor, at Members’ Forum on Tuesday 10th November 2015:
1. Is the Mayor aware of, and what is his reaction to, the Charity Commission's recent censure of Bristol's Watershed for failing to observe political balance in its programming - in particular, the anti-Israel bias exposed and expressed in its Palestinian Film Festival (due to be held in December 2015)?