5 Sept: Listen to the Banned (partner event)

Photo - Ramy Essam, Tahrir Square - Festival 800

Photo – Ramy Essam, Tahrir Square – Festival 800

Join us in Lincoln for Festival 800, a celebration of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta – a unique and powerful statement that began the world’s march to freedom and liberty.

Index on Censorship are delighted to be supporting Festival 800 and Freemuse who are staging a special day focused on musicians who have been banned from performing their work in their own countries. Events include:

13:30 – Listen to the Banned
Listen to the Banned is a compilation album that features the music of banned, censored and imprisoned artists from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Project co-founders, music producer Deeyah Khan and Ole Reitov, executive director of Freemuse discuss the album’s origins and their wider work. Khan is a critically acclaimed composer, award-winning documentary film director and celebrated human rights activist. (£8)

16:00 – Talking With the Banned
Two international musicians who have faced censorship, “exiled bard of the Egyptian revolution” Ramy Essam and Basque artist Fermin Muguruza, join others including Deeyah Khan, editor of Index on Censorship magazine Rachael Jolley, and author and academic Martin Cloonan (chair) for a conversation about censorship. (£5)

19:30 – The Banned – Live and unplugged in concert. 
A live gig featuring folk musician Ramy Essam who was catapulted to fame by the events of Tahrir Square; Lavon Volski, an icon of Belarusian rock music and Fermin Muguruza, who sings against the oppression that he feels Spain has over Basque Country. With Attila the Stockbroker as MC. (£10)

When: Saturday 5 September 2015, timings as above.
Where: Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, LN6 7TS (map)
Tickets: Special Index offer for whole day £15, quote INDEX when booking.

Offensive art: The right to protest but not to censor


We the undersigned members of Artsfex condemn an alarming worldwide trend in which violent protest silences artistic expression that some groups claim is offensive. People have every right to object to art they find objectionable but no right whatsoever to have that work censored. Free expression, including work that others may find shocking or offensive, is a right that must be defended vigorously.

We call on artists, arts venues, protestors and the police to work together as a matter of urgency, to stand up for artistic free expression and to ensure that the right to protest does not override the right to free expression. This means that every possible step is taken to ensure that the art work remains open for all to see, while protesters voices are heard.

We must prevent the repetition of recent ‘successful protests’ in which the artist is silenced by threats of violence towards the institution, the work or the artist him or herself, as we saw with Exhibit B in London, and The City, the hip-hop opera by the Jerusalem-based Incubator Theatre company, which was disrupted and consequently cancelled earlier this year in Edinburgh.

Greater clarity around policing of controversial arts events is an essential first step. In the United Kingdom there is nothing at present in Association of Chief Police Officers guidance relating to the particulars of policing cultural events, except in reference to football matches and music festivals.

Controversial art triggers debate – and in the case of Exhibit B there was a huge outpouring of feeling in opposition to the work. A contemporary institution should anticipate and provide for this. Detailed planning such as this is important if the arts venue is to cater for both the artwork and the debate it generates.

We are concerned that unless arts institutions prepare procedures to manage controversy, including to develop strategies for working with the police to control violence, our culture will suffer as a result and become less dynamic, relevant and responsive.

Article 19
Index on Censorship
National Coalition Against Censorship (US)

For further information, please call 0207 260 2660

About Artsfex
ARTSFEX is an international civil society network actively concerned with the right of artists to freedom of expression as well as with issues relating to human rights and freedoms. ARTSFEX aims to promote, protect and defend artistic freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly, thought, and opinion in and across all art disciplines, globally. http://artsfex.org/

Turkey: Petition to free Turkish singer

More than 1000 people have signed petition calling on authorities to drop trial against singer and Ferhat Tunç, who is facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years after a speech he made at a cultural festival of Siirt.

The case against the defendant is being heard at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court. During a 1 October hearing, his joint lawyers claimed that Tunç’s speech, who was this year’s winner of the Index on Censorship/Freemuse award for his propagation of freedom of speech and human rights, should be assessed within the boundaries of freedom of expression. The court postponed the case to 4 November in order to gather missing documents.