ARTISTIC FREEDOM

We encourage an environment in which artists and arts organisations can challenge the status quo, speak out on sensitive issues and tackle taboos.

Index offers advisory and consultancy services, including workshops, publishes case studies about artistic censorship, and has guidance for artists on laws related to artistic freedom in England and Wales.

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Arts Censorship Support Service

Arts Censorship Support Services

Index can provide assistance to colleagues in the cultural sector facing issues of censorship.

We offer advice, guidance and can provide access to resources, mentoring, and bespoke training.

The Arts Censorship Support Service can connect you to a network of specialists working in various fields including law, communications and the media.

Find out more.

Case Studies


These case studies cover art works that deal with some of the most highly sensitised, contentious and complex issues in today’s society – terrorism, incest, slavery, illegal immigration, grooming, radicalisation – provoking debate and controversy around authorship, representation, the role of the police and online campaigns and self-censorship. In some cases the work was removed, in others not – in some the controversy was anticipated, in others not. Collectively, the case studies aim to equip arts organisations and artists with insight into what worked and what didn’t, what mistakes were made, and what lessons were learned.

The most recent and ongoing series of case studies, written over the past couple of years, are short publications of record with a brief account of what happened, supported by press commentary and short ‘reflective’ interviews with people involved looking back on the legacy of the events.

Art and the Law


Guides to the law on free expression and the arts in England and Wales

Child Protection

Child protection is a sensitive area of law and a deserved focus of public concern.  The prospect of a police investigation alone will be a matter of substantial press interest, while an actual prosecution, although unlikely in the professional arts sector, would nevertheless result in grave consequences for the gallery and the artist.

Read more

Art and the Law: Child Protection

Counter Terrorism

Counter-terrorism is a complex and controversial area of the law, not least because the offences are often very widely drafted. The relevant legal definition of terrorism, contained within the Terrorism Act 2000 (and further extended in 2006), is very broad and potentially covers a very wide range of acts beyond those that are widely understood to be “terrorist” in nature.

Read more

Art and the Law: Counter Terrorism

Obscene Publications

Obscene publications are governed by the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the Obscene Publications Act 1964. The 1959 Act sets out the legal test for obscenity and creates certain offences and defences.

Read more

Art and the Law: Obscene Publications

Public Order

Public order law is complicated and its application to any particular case will be fact-specific. It should be borne in mind that much of this area of law – in particular breach of the peace – is governed by the common law. Common law, also referred to as case law, is made by judges and developed in the cases that come before the court over time.

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Art and the Law: Public Order

Race and Religion

UK law criminalises conduct that has the intent of stirring up racial hatred or hatred on grounds of religion or sexual orientation.

Read more

Art and the Law: Race and Religion

Commentary and Reports

Recent News

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