People in the field of arts and culture indulge in self censorship, survey reveals

arts and culture, self censorship, indian express news

For the survey, just 40 per cent of respondents said that their personal views and opinions are respected. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

At a time when the debate around right to freedom of speech and expression in India and around the world has taken centre stage, a new survey has revealed that many people in the field of arts and culture are afraid to speak their mind, fearing professional backlash.

A UK arts publication, ArtsProfessional, has conducted the Freedom of Expression survey, and has received responses from more than 500 people, many of whom have pointed out the perils of speaking freely. Some 8 out of 10 employees shared that 'controversial' and 'politically unpopular' opinions can bring professional ostracism and bullying. Many, therefore, resort to self censorship.

According to the survey, some of the aforementioned 'controversial' topics include support for right-wing ideologies. It is ironic, since arts and culture ought to be a field wherein free thinking is encouraged and supported, along with different world views.

ALSO READ | ‘Freedoms are not given, you have to snatch them’

The survey has also revealed that conversations around religion, gender and sexuality have also become a 'minefield'. So, while one person can be pulled up for not being on point for their messaging, another can be slammed for being too on point. And yet another can receive flak for being off message.

For the survey, just 40 per cent of respondents said that their personal views and opinions are respected, and only 2 per cent more said they feel free enough to speak their mind on pressing issues.

According to the Daily Mail, ArtsProfessional Editor Amanda Parker has said that the findings show "deep division between public perception and the reality of working in the arts and cultural sector." "Our survey shines a damning light on the coercion, bullying, intimidation and intolerance that is active among a community that thinks of itself as liberal, open minded and equitable," she said.

ALSO READ | Director Sahidul Haque on his play, The Old Man, and how Assam inspires his theatre

The survey also revealed that while some respondents were "offered money" to "sign non-disclosure deals to censor their opinions", others held a we-do-not-bite-the-hand-that-feeds-us mentality.