What the Fuck!? podcast new episode: Punk poet Penny Rimbaud

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”115655″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In this episode, Index’s associate editor Mark Frary talks to musician, poet and activist Penny Rimbaud, who founded anarchistic punk band Crass in the 1970s.

He talks about why the battle isn’t against Donald Trump but against all US presidencies and why the British are the most repressed in the world. He says the Sex Pistols and the Clash were only playing at being angry.

He also. says everyone should change their name, as he did, and why his poetic namesake is the inspiration behind his new album, Arthur Rimbaud in Verdun, now out on One Little Independent Records.

The high-concept album is based on a fiction constructed by Penny which places the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (who died in 1891) at the historic and tragic battle of Verdun in 1916. It is influenced by the sounds of John Coltrane and the visuals of Jackson Pollock.

Index on Censorship’s What the Fuck!? podcast invites politicians, activists, journalists and celebrities to talk about the worst things going on in the world, why you should care and why you should swear.

Listen to the launch episode with British artist Alison Jackson, famous for her fake photos of politicians and the royal family as she talks about the phenomenon of Donald Trump. The second episode features Harry Potter actor Natalia Tena, who talks about how she became aware of female genital cutting, a practice that affects more than 200 million girls and women around the world.


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Index launches new advisory service for arts organisations

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]UK-based freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship has launched a new service to support arts organisations facing censorship. Building on a successful program of workshops for senior managers and boards in 2018, Index is setting up the Arts Censorship Support Service as part of its Artistic Freedom programme.

The Arts Censorship Support Service will provide assistance to colleagues in the cultural sector facing issues of censorship. The service is open to anyone in the cultural sector, employed or self-employed and the initial consultation will be free of charge. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-times” color=”custom” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”black” size=”xl” align=”right” custom_color=”#dd3333″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

The Arts Censorship Support Service is part of a broader programme of work offering resources to the arts sector in the UK.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship staff as well as a network of senior-level cultural sector and legal professionals with significant experience in managing complex ethical, reputational and legal issues, are available to offer advice on a wide range of issues, including:

  • Checking at the earliest stage of production of a new work whether there is the potential of a legal challenge
  • Advising on a communications strategy in support of provocative work
  • Advising how to manage hostile media attention
  • Providing moral support and guidance on how to deal with the emotional stress associated with controversy.

The Arts Censorship Support Service is part of a broader programme of work offering resources to the arts sector in the UK. Index also offers bespoke training and consultancy at all levels, from one-to-one consultancy to boards and staff training, from schools workshops to development of bespoke guidance on freedom of expression.

A resource centre on the Index website also provides information via case studies that examine examples of how arts organisations have handled highly sensitised, contentious and complex issues in today’s society. Collectively, the case studies aim to equip arts organisations and artists with insight into what worked and what didn’t, what was contested, and what lessons were learned.

Five booklets covering Art and the Law give clear information about criminal laws governing freedom of expression and the protections available to arts organisation in mounting challenging work.

For more information, please contact: Sean Gallagher, Index on Censorship, [email protected][/vc_column_text][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1558424600419-80bbdd93-e9cd-4″ taxonomies=”15469″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Risks, rights and reputations: challenging a risk averse culture

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Risks, Rights & Reputations (RRR) is a half-day training programme developed by Index on Censorship, What Next? and Cause4 to provide arts and cultural leaders with the guidance, inspiration, tools and resources to navigate the rights and responsibilities of producing challenging or socially sensitive work. 

Challenging a Risk Averse Culture

“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 that organisations are aware of relevant legislation and the excellent guidance that exists. 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

Navigating the rights and responsibilities of art that explores socially sensitive themes can appear daunting, risky and time-consuming. We have seen work cancelled or removed, because it was provocative or the funder controversial. But, for arts and culture to be relevant, dynamic and inclusive, we have to reinforce our capacity to respond to the most complex and provocative questions.

“This important and necessary project is a great opportunity to learn and discuss with others the increasing challenges we face in the arts sector, particularly in the context of socially engaged practise and public spaces.” – Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Freedom Festival Arts Trust

Session Content

The session addresses the challenges and opportunities related to artistic risk and freedom of expression. It aims to encourage participants to voice concerns and experiences within a supportive environment and programme of presentations, discussion and group work. By the end of day participants will:

  • Understand the legal and rights framework supporting artistic freedom in the UK;
  • Learn from analysis of recent controversies in the arts;
  • Gain confidence in decision-making and planning for potentially controversial work;
  • Manage expectations relating to the role of the police;
  • Discover the value of creating an ethical fundraising policy;
  • Benefit from access to new tools, resources and ongoing support from peers and experts beyond the session.


The session is open to artistic directors, CEOs, Senior management and trustees of arts organisations.

To date, RRR sessions have been delivered in Manchester, London and Bristol, with Arts Council national and regional offices and in partnership with the Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Hull.

“I feel more confident to speak up when talking to leaders about policy, process and practice when it comes to issues around artistic risk-taking / freedom of expression and ethical fundraising. I feel more empowered to be a useful, knowledgeable sounding board for the organisation’s I support than I did previously.” – Relationship Manager, Arts Council England[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1510749691901{padding-top: -150px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_separator][vc_column_text]


We are currently accepting bookings from CEO/Artistic Directors, Chairs, individual Board Members and senior team members across the country for our upcoming RRR training sessions:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Date[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]ACE Region[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Venue[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Host[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Trainers[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Tickets[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]30 November 2018, 12:00 – 17:00 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Northern Ireland[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]The Black Box[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Belfast Festivals Forum[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]Julia Farrington, Index on Censorship;
Michelle Wright, Cause4
Diane Morgan, director Nitrobeat[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_column_text]From £25. Book tickets for the Black Box session.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][vc_column_text]

The Team

“This was a really interesting, thought provoking, relevant and empowering session. I really appreciated the knowledge and the care taken to pull it together. Thank you!” – Participant – CEO

The RRR team consists of specialists and facilitators in freedom of expression, artistic risk and ethical fundraising alongside Artistic Director/CEO hosts who are committed to asking the difficult questions of our time:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”103264″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]Julia Farrington has specialised in artistic freedom, working at the intersection between arts, politics and social justice, since 2005. She was previously Head of Arts (at Index on Censorship (2009 – 2014) and continues her pioneering work on censorship and self-censorship as Associate Arts Producer. From 2014 – 2016, Julia was head of campaigns for Belarus Free Theatre. She now works freelance and is a member of International Arts Rights Advisors (IARA), facilitator for Arts Rights Justice Academy and Impact Producer for Doc Society, promoting documentary film as a powerful advocacy tool.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”103265″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]Diane Morgan is the Director of nitroBEAT and a consultant/producer. She works in collaboration with artists, leaders and organisations to support (and merge) artistic risk taking and social engagement ideas, practices and approaches. Previous roles include; Project Manager for the Cultural Leadership Programme, Decibel lead for Arts Council West Midlands and Head of Projects at Contact Theatre, Manchester.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”103266″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]Helen Jenkins is a consultant for Cause4, a social enterprise that supports charities, social enterprises and philanthropists to develop and raise vital funds across the arts, education and charity sectors. She has over 20 years experience of working across all fundraising disciplines in senior management and at Board level.  Helen has helped organisations nationally and internationally to achieve fundraising targets and retain their ethics within challenging financial climates.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

When: Friday 30 November 2018, 12:00–17:00
Where: The Black Box 18-22 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA
Tickets: £25 (or £15 members of Belfast Festivals Forum*), includes lunch & refreshments

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Booking Information


£45 for individuals from organisations with an annual turnover of over £500K.

£80 for two individuals from organisations with an annual turnover of over £500K

£25 for individuals from organisations with an annual turnover of over £250-500K

£40 for two individuals from organisations with an annual turnover £250-500K


Diversity and equality are essential to both the dialogue and learning around artistic risk-taking and for stronger a cultural sector. The programme is actively seeking to be fully representative of, reflect, and to meet the needs of the arts and cultural community across; gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and class.

In order to respond to existing under-representation we are offering a limited number of bursaries to cover the training session fee for BAME and disabled CEO/Artistic Directors, Chairs, individual Board Members and Senior team members, and individuals from organisations with an annual turnover of under £250k who are currently living and working in England.

To apply for a bursary please write to: [email protected] with a short description of your organisation and why you would like to attend this session. Deadline: Friday 9 November.


We aim to provide an inclusive environment and will work with individual participants to make sure we can meet your access needs, such as providing support workers or British Sign Language interpreters or preparing programme materials in alternative formats. Our experienced facilitators aim to be as flexible as possible in order to make the programme work for your particular needs. For access queries please write to [email protected][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Turkey’s thought-provoking playwrights, actors and directors have little choice but to become exiles


Enough Is Enough cast members

Enough is Enough is a play formed as a gig, tells the stories of real people about sexual violence, through song and dark humour. It is written by Meltem Arikan, directed by Memet Ali Alabora, with music by Maddie Jones, and includes four female cast members who act as members of a band.

For Turkish director and actor Memet Ali Alabora, theatre is about creating an environment in which the audience is encouraged to think, react and reflect. His goal is to leave the audience thinking about and questioning issues, whether it be democracy, free speech, women’s rights or the concept of belonging.

Alabora has always been fascinated by the notion of play and games, even as a child. “I was in a group of friends that imitated each other, told jokes, made fun of things and situations,” he says. The son of actors Mustafa Alabora and Betül Arım, he was exposed early on to the theatre. In high school, Alabora took on roles in plays by Shakespeare and Orhan Veli. He was one of the founders of Garajistanbul, a contemporary performing arts institution in Istanbul.

For Alabora, ludology — the studying of gaming — is not merely about creating different theatrical personalities and presenting them to the audience each time. Rather, it is about creating an alternative to ordinary life — an environment in which actors and members of the audience could meet, intermingle and interact. For those two hours or so, participants are encouraged to think deeply about and reflect upon their own personal stories and the consequences of their actions.

“I think I’m obsessed with the audience. I always think about what is going to happen to the audience at the end of the play: What will they say? What situation do I want to put them in?” the Turkish actor says “It’s not about what messages I want to convey. I want them to put themselves in the middle of everything shown and spoken about, and think about their own responsibility, their own journey and history.”

“It’s not easy to do that for every audience you touch. If I can do that with some of the people in the audience, I think I will be happy,” Alabora adds.

It is this desire to create an environment in which the audience is encouraged to take part, to reflect, to think that Alabora brought to Mi Minör, a Turkish play that premiered in 2012. Written by Turkish playwright Meltem Arıkan, it is set in the fictional country of “Pinima”, where despite being a democracy, everything is decided by the president”. In opposition to the president is the pianist, who cannot play high notes, such as the Mi note, on her piano because they have been banned. The play encouraged the audience to use their smartphones to interact with each other and influence the outcome.

Alabora explained the production team’s motivation behind the play: “At the time when we were creating Mi Minör, our main motive was to make each and every audience if possible to question themselves. This is very important. The question we asked ourselves was: if we could create a situation in which people could face in one and a half hour, about autocracy, oppression, how would people react?”

The goal wasn’t to “preach the choir” or convey a certain message about the world. It was to encourage the audience not be complacent. “Would the audience stand with the pianist, who advocates free speech and freedom of expression, or would they side with the autocratic president?” Alabora asks.

Alabora considered was how people would react when faced with the same situation in real life. “They were reacting, but was it a sort of reaction where they react, get complacent with it and go back to their ordinary lives, or would they react if they see the same situation in real life?”

On 27 May 2013, a wave of unrest and demonstrations broke out in Gezi Park, Istanbul to protest the urban development plans being carried out there. Over the next few days, violence quickly escalated, with the police using tear gas to suppress peaceful demonstrations. By July 2013, over 8,000 people were injured and five dead.

In the aftermath, Turkish authorities accused Mi Minör of being a rehearsal for the protests. Faced with threats against their lives, Arikan, Alabora and Pinar Ogun, the lead actress, had little choice but to leave the country.

But how could a play that was on for merely five months be a rehearsal for a series of protests that involved more than 7.5 million people in Istanbul alone? “You can’t teach people how to revolt,” Alabora says. “Yes, theatre can change things, be a motive for change, but we’re not living in the beginning of the 20th century or ancient Greece where you can influence day-to-day politics with theatre.”

The three artists relocated to Cardiff, but their experience did not prevent them from continuing with the work they love. They founded Be Aware Productions in January 2015 and their first production, Enough is Enough, written by Arikan, told the stories of women who were victims of domestic violence, rape, incest and sexual abuse. The team organised a month-long tour of more than 20 different locations in Wales.

“In west Wales, we performed in a bar where there was a rugby game right before – there was already an audience watching the game on TV and drinking beer,” Alabora says. “The bar owner gave the tickets to the audience in front and kept the customers who had just seen the rugby game behind.”

“After the play, we had a discussion session and it was as if you were listening to the stories of these four women in a very intimate environment,” he adds. “When you go through something like that, it becomes an experience, which is more than seeing a show.”

After each performance, the team organised a “shout it all out” session, in which members of the audience could discuss the play and share their personal stories with each other. One person said: “Can I say something? Don’t stop what you are doing. You have just reached out one person tonight. That’s a good thing because it strengthened my resolve. Please keep doing that. Because you have given somebody somewhere some hope. You have given me that. You really have.”

Be Aware Productions is now in the process of developing a new project that documents how the production team ended up in Wales and why they chose it as their destination.

“What we did differently with this project was that we did touring rehearsals. We had three weeks of rehearsal in six different parts of Wales. The rehearsals were open to the public, and we had incredible insight from people about the show, about their own stories and about the theme of belonging,” Alabora shares.

Just like Mi Minor and Enough is Enough, the motivation behind this new project is to encourage the audience to think, to reflect on their own personal stories and experiences: “With this new project, I want them to really think personally about what they think or believe and where this sense of belonging is coming from, have they thought about it, and just share their experiences.” [/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner content_placement=”top”][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]

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

Index currently runs workshops in the UK, publishes case studies about artistic censorship, and has produced guidance for artists on laws related to artistic freedom in England and Wales.

Learn more about our work defending artistic freedom.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1536657340830-d3ce1ff1-7600-4″ taxonomies=”15469″][/vc_column][/vc_row]