Sydneysiders take note. A public forum called Art Censorship: the Bigger Picture will be held on 12th June at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In the interests of stimulating some informed and thoughtful public debate, a group of highly respected speakers will take a measured look at the topic in light of the furore surrounding recent censorship of the work of well-known artist Bill Henson.

The forum is co-convened by Watch on Censorship a community organisation with the goal of protecting and promoting the rights of adult Australians to freedom of speech and expression in all media, and the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), the peak body representing and advancing the professional interests of the Australian visual arts, craft and design sector. The event is also proudly sponsored by Frankel Lawyers: arts, media and entertainment.

Proceedings will be introduced by Margaret Pomeranz and David Marr will chair. Sounds like a red carpet event.

Panel Speakers

Ian Howard is an artist, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW and Chair of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). He will provide an artist’s perspective about his experience in testing the boundaries in relation to militarism and national security, self censorship, and the vagaries of audience interpretation.

Gallery speaker (TBC), will offer the gallery perspective on art censorship discussing galleries as ‘special’ places, curatorial decision-making, dealing with sensitive subject matter, and dealing with complaints and threats.

Hetty Johnston, is Executive Director and founder of Bravehearts Inc. which aims to engender child sexual assault prevention and protection strategies, advocate for understanding, promote increased education and research, and provide healing and support. Ms Johnston will give her views on the boundaries of public tolerance in relation to art and protection of the child.

Julian Burnside QC, is a barrister, writer and President of Liberty Victoria, has acted pro bono in many human rights cases and is passionate about the arts. He will elaborate the law in relation to art censorship and how it is exercised, including the complexities of ‘intention’, ‘context’, ‘reasonableness’, public attitudes, protecting human rights and freedom of expression.

Clive Hamilton, is a prolific writer and public commentator and immediate past Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He will comment on community standards and public moral codes, and the limits to freedom of expression.

Art Censorship: the Bigger Picture

WHERE: the Foundation Hall, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), 140 George Street, Sydney. (Google Map)
WHEN: Thursday 12th June 2008, 6-8pm