Risks, Rights and Reputations is led by Index on Censorship in partnership with What Next? and Cause4.

Risks, Rights and Reputations takes on our increasingly risk averse culture. This vital training for CEOs and chairs of trustee boards is aimed at ensuring arts and cultural organisations across the country have the tools to handle difficult subjects and sensitive stories to deliver the best work possible.

Navigating the rights and responsibilities of art that explores socially sensitive work can appear daunting, risky and time-consuming; the prospect of controversy, protest, police intervention and possible closure or cancellation because the work is provocative, or the funder is controversial, can be powerful disincentives.

And yet great art has always fuelled controversy, and experimentation and risk taking are integral to achieving excellent, relevant art.

The aim of this practical, informative and thought-provoking workshop is to support arts organisations to reinforce the arts as a space that asks the most difficult questions of our time. Specialists in freedom of expression, fundraising and diversity will offer tools for senior managers and trustees to open up discussion and develop understanding within their organisations about:

  • the impact on freedom of expression of arts organisations involved in recent controversies in the arts
  • the value of creating an ethical fundraising policy
  • the legal and rights framework supporting artistic freedom in the UK
  • expectations relating to the role of the police in managing controversies triggered by artwork

In recent years there have been an increasing number of high-profile cases raising ethical and censorship issues around plays, exhibitions and other artworks. Censorship – and self-censorship – can stand in the way of great art. That’s why Arts Council England is committed to supporting those organisations who are taking creative risks. It’s important such organisations are aware of relevant legislation and the excellent guidance that exists as well as, crucially, being supported by colleagues across the sector in similar situations. This programme is an important step in ensuring that our sector can continue to create vital, challenging, and risk-taking work. — Sir Nick Serota, chair of Arts Council England



ACE Region





11 October 2018

North East


Julia Farrington, Index on Censorship;
Helen Jenkins, Cause4;
Diane Morgan, director Nitrobeat

15 November 2018


Young Vic Theatre

Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director)

Julia Farrington, Index on Censorship;
Michelle Wright, Cause4
Diane Morgan, director Nitrobeat

21 November 2018


New Arts Exchange, Nottingham

Skinder Hundal (CEO of New Art Exchange) and Sukhy Johal, MBE (Chair of New Art Exchange)

Julia Farrington, Index on Censorship;
Helen Jenkins, Cause4;
Diane Morgan, director Nitrobeat

For further information about Risks, Rights and Reputations, please contact Julia Farrington, associate producer at [email protected]


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Art and the Law: Race and Religion