Art, politics and artistic freedom
Sir, – We are a group of over 100 Irish artists, dance and theatre makers who have been in receipt of Dublin City Council funding or have been involved in Dublin City Council-funded events.
We are writing to express deep disappointment and alarm at the decision of Dublin City Council to cancel “The Question of the Eighth” event in the upcoming International Literature Festival Dublin 2018, as outlined in Una Mullally’s column of April 30th (“Dangerous and grim for society to silence arts”, Opinion & Analysis).
The event was a panel discussion featuring prominent artists who had contributed to a recent anthology entitled Repeal the 8th, edited by Una Mullally. Participants had been invited to discuss the concept of protest art and their approach to writing about the body and autonomy.
We believe that censorship of art and literature, and indeed the censorship of open discussion inspired by art and literature, has no place in modern Irish society, and we are not persuaded that cancellation of the event was the only avenue available to Dublin City Council. We believe this action sets a dangerous precedent for intellectual discourse and artistic freedom and is damaging to Ireland’s reputation internationally. We object to it in the strongest possible manner.
We challenge Dublin City Council – its chief executive Owen Keegan, arts officer Ray Yeates, and elected representatives – to defend this decision. We also call upon the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to respond.
We call on Dublin City Council to make public the full details and process surrounding the decision-making in this instance; find and apply a mechanism to reverse the decision to cancel “The Question of the Eighth” in the upcoming International Literature Festival 2018; and ensure protection of artistic freedom by enabling the arms-length principle in every single instance where the local authority funds or part-funds any artistic endeavour. – Yours, etc,
OLWEN FOUÉRÉ ,
ZOE NI RIORDAIN,
FEARGHUS Ó CONCHÚIR,
JOSE MIGUEL JIMENEZ,
SARAH JANE SHIELS,
Sir, – Una Mullally asks why the charity regulator is determining what art is or isn’t political. A registered charity is not allowed engage in political activity.
Or to turn that around, a political action group or political party cannot register as a charity. So it seems to me that the charity regulator was merely enforcing regulations.
That it may not have done so during the marriage equality referendum only means that it was not as vigilant as it might have been.
We certainly want the charity regulator to ensure charities are properly and transparently run. Do we want it to be selective about this?
For the record, I’m chairman of a small charity and I am in favour of repeal of the Eighth Amendment (these facts are not related). – Yours, etc,