New guidance for arts professionals on controversial productions
24 Jul 2015

Child Protection: PDF | web

Counter Terrorism: PDF | web

Obscene Publications: PDF | web

Public Order: PDF | web

Race and Religion: PDF | web

Art and the Law main page for access to the guides, case studies and resources.

Fear of prosecution over free speech can force arts practitioners to self-censor
“Art and the Law” packs offer guidance for controversial exhibitions
Issues exposed by “Exhibit B” and “The City” shut down last year show need for guidance

Index on Censorship and advocacy group Vivarta, supported by law firms Bindmans, Clifford Chance and others, have launched a new set of guidelines to help UK artists, curators and exhibitors navigate the legal framework underpinning artistic freedom of expression.

“Art and the Law” information packs covering Child Protection, Counter Terrorism, Obscene Publications, Public Order and Race and Religion will be available to galleries and practitioners across the country.

“Free expression is crucial to the arts,” said Julia Farrington, who spearheaded the project. “But we have found that too often, artists and exhibitors are unsure of their rights under the law. Our Art and the Law guides will help them approach controversy with more confidence.”

“The police, prosecutors and courts have a duty to defend free speech, said Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship Chief Executive. “But, as we have seen with cases such as Exhibit B and Behzti, police will go along with a ‘heckler’s veto’ and advise that artistic productions shut down when threatened with protest.”

The Barbican’s “Exhibit B”, a show replicating slavery-era “Human Zoo” exhibitions of African people featuring live actors, was shut down in September 2014 in the face of protesters who saw the piece as racist and exploitative.

“The Exhibit B closure demonstrates clearly the power the police have over decisions about art that offends,” said Farrington. “These packs set out to explain the powers of the police and the rights and responsibilities of arts organisations in this area.”

The Art and the Law Guides will be published on 24 July. PDFs of the law packs are available at

For more info, contact Julia Farrington; [email protected] /
+44 (0) 790288365

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