Defending freedom in the arts

A letter has been launched defending freedom in the arts, against what it calls ‘a culture of self-censorship and groupthink which are fundamentally damaging to the arts’. Signed by artists, choreographers, composers, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and others, the letter says that:

Art schools, galleries, theatres, dance and music stages, and film sets were once platforms that nurtured diverse ideas and contrasting perspectives. Today, many of these institutions actively discriminate against artists and audiences who do not subscribe to their views.

This repressive atmosphere has given rise to numerous boycotts and protests. Artists and art workers have become the subjects of cancellations, denunciations, and smear campaigns simply for holding legally protected views or expressing mainstream opinions, even outside of their work.

The organisers say Freedom in the Arts is ‘a 5-year emergency project to tackle the culture of fear and intimidation facing artists’. The aim of the initiative is to ‘reverse the ideological capture of arts institutions and encourage free thought and expression’. 

Rosie Kay, choreographer and co-founder of Freedom in the Arts, says:

It really has been harrowing to hear the experiences of esteemed and talented artists who have been ostracised, their work cancelled, and the way they have been intimidated by the very arts organisations that should be supporting them. Through my research I found that many artists, and those working in the arts, are too frightened to speak out and won’t go on record publicly. One artist said she is still reeling from losing all her work as her profession shunned her. There’s a sense people risk their reputations if they do not adhere to political orthodoxy in the arts. It’s a completely toxic situation, and I cannot see how audiences will benefit from a culture in the arts that is so policed.

Sign the letter here!