National arts and civil rights organizations expressed deep concern today over the extent to which cultural institutions are halting the development of programs that can be interpreted as relating to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. 

A rash of cancellations over the past few months has affected cultural programs and exhibitions that contain references to the conflict or that involve artists who have commented on the Israel-Palestine conflict publicly. And this chilling of artistic expression now extends to works that examine other geopolitical conflicts, for the sole reason that conjuring one conflict may evoke another. A recent incident involving the Center for Book Arts raises the alarm that the current political climate is pushing cultural institutions to a level of self-censorship that would prevent them from addressing (any) political conflict.

The arts have a key role to play in the context of a global geopolitical crisis. Denying them that role not only violates artistic freedom, it stifles a very necessary public conversation. We call on cultural institutions to recognize and accept their responsibility as forums where conversations about global issues that affect us all can and should take place.

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