New guidance for arts professionals on controversial productions
28 Jan 2015

* Fear of prosecution over free speech can chill arts practitioners
* Issues triggered by Exhibit B shutdown and Muhammad images show need for guidance

A new project will offer artists, producers and curators help in negotiating controversial issues.

Experts, lawyers and arts practitioners will produce a series of information packs examining the impact of current UK laws on the arts sector’s practical freedom to present creative works. The packs will be published by new free expression advocacy organisation Vivarta, in collaboration with campaign organisation Index on Censorship and top law firms Bindmans LLP and Clifford Chance. The project is supported by Arts Council England. The new guides will be launched in May, with input from leading lights in the arts, civil liberties and legal spheres.

Covering legislation on public order, child protection, obscene publication, racial & religious hatred, and counter-terrorism, the packs will help informed decision making, contingency planning and risk assessment across the sector.

“Arts professionals rarely get any training in legal issues that impact on freedom of artistic expression,” said Julia Farrington of Vivarta. “These guides will give people across the arts more confidence in making decisions, with greater awareness of their legal rights and the role of the police.”

“The shutting down last year of performances like Exhibit B at The Barbican and Israeli hip hop opera The City in Edinburgh demonstrate that artists and venues continue to walk a delicate path when putting on challenging work,” said Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg. “Often fear of opposition or protest forces groups to self-censor. We hope clearer guidance on tackling these issues can help to reverse that trend.”

For more information contact: Julia Farrington – 07980 288 365; [email protected]

Notes for editors: Vivarta is a media production house and advocate for free expression rights. Vivarta produces and promotes new analysis and creative advocacy in support of freedom of expression rights, while developing new partnerships and resources online and off to achieve this aim.

Index on Censorship is an international organisation that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression. The inspiration of poet Stephen Spender, Index was founded in 1972 to publish the untold stories of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. Today, we fight for free speech around the world, challenging censorship whenever and wherever it occurs.

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