NCAC Calls on Herberger Theater Center to Apologize for Cancelled Show and Commit to Guidelines Supporting Free Expression.
The National Coalition Against Censorship is protesting the cancellation of Prime Example at the Phoenix, AZ Herberger Theater Center (HTC). The exhibition was cancelled a week before its opening because theater administrators found some of the work objectionable. (http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/photoGallery/index/3816852/5/)
In a letter sent to Richard Bowers, president of HTC, NCAC raises concerns about the violation of First Amendment principles by the Center, which is supported by government funds. Svetlana Mintcheva, NCAC’s Director of Programs, points out that “the “objectionable” images may be disturbing to some, but they enjoy full constitutional protection. For the administrator of an art space to decide to arbitrarily suppress something they just don’t like is a violation both of the rights of artists and those of the audience.”
Aside from First Amendment concerns, the letter argues that the “arbitrary and unprecedented decision to request the removal of the works based on an administrator’s subjective opinion is likely to severely damage the reputation of the Herberger. A space dedicated to the arts should not only uphold artistic freedom of expression, but should also respect the various interests of its audiences rather than patronize them by deciding what they should be allowed to see and what they should be “protected from.””
NCAC is calling on HTC to apologize to the artists and the curator and adopt guidelines for future shows that respect principles of artistic and curatorial freedom.
All artwork by Mike Ford. Clockwise from left: The Sodomite, The Hotel Room, and The Dolls.