A debate about censorship that promised to push buttons and boundaries, with Rt Rev James Jones, Grayson Perry, Professor Frank Furedi and Kate Adie.
I was vaguely aware of the organisation, National Campaign for the Arts before this evening. They’d been a powerful membership organisation, lobbying for public sector funding for culture. So I was excited by this event, chaired by their Chair, Kate Adie.
The topic was taste and self-sensorship.
On the sofas with Kate Adie were Rt Rev James Jones (Bishop of Liverpool), Grayson Perry (dressed as Claire) and Professor Frank Furedi (Professor of Sociology at Kent University).
The subject promised a broad look at the beautiful and moving, through to the shocking, distasteful and disturbing.
The less than half full hall was perhaps not too big a surprise. An academic debate on a Monday night, with a £9.50 entry fee wasn’t an enticing prospect for many.
The boundaries of taste have been pushed a long way in the past half century or so. And with a Bishop, a transvestite potter, a far-left academic and a war correspondent in the mix, the stage looked set for a lively debate of opinions and objections.
The reality was actually very different.
The was an almost immediate consensus: tackling of uncomfortable subject matter can only be a positive development within society, helping pose questions that would otherwise remain unanswered.
Quickly the subject veered more towards social commentary than an exploration of the arts, though the odd nod was made back in the direction.
The consensus and generally affable nature of the panelists could have been irritating if they hadn’t each been so entertaining in their own ways.
Some fascinating questions and observations were made and the evening proved an insightful, eye-opening and sometimes humorous look at a subject where we are all quick to take sides.
Perhaps the most controversial views of the panel came from Frank Furedi who lambasted the emerging trends of de-platforming and dichotomy of liberals calling for free speech whilst censoring historic racial language in academic literature. I’m not sure anyone was buying it but it did make for an interesting note of conflict.
The evening warmed me to the National Campaign for the Arts and made me determined to do more to lobby for funding for the arts.