Survey of UK art world finds 'a quagmire of wokeness' rife with 'coercion, bullying, intimidation and intolerance'

A UK magazine called ArtsProfessional has published the results of a “Freedom of Expression survey” and the results are not good. The survey found that in the professional art world in the UK , self-censorship is the norm and pressure to stay silent on controversial issues is felt by most.


A culture of self-censorship and fear of backlash from funders, colleagues and the public is convincing arts and cultural workers to stay silent on important issues, according to new research from ArtsProfessional…

While about 90% of respondents agreed that “the arts and cultural sector has a responsibility to use its unique talents to speak out about things that matter, regardless of the potential consequences”, more than 80% thought that “workers in the arts and cultural sector who share controversial opinions risk being professionally ostracised”…

“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.

As you would expect, the pressure is especially strong on anyone who holds a right-of-center opinion or even an insufficiently woke opinion:

The research indicates the arts and cultural sector is intolerant of viewpoints outside of the dominant norms. Anything that might be considered “politically incorrect” to the liberal-leaning sector – including expressing support or sympathy for Brexit, the Conservatives or other right-wing political parties – was felt to be risky territory.

Religion, gender and sexuality were also considered a “minefield” and no-go areas for many: “Anything to do with gender issues, especially trans issues, will get a lot of flak for either not being on message enough, or being off message, or too on message,” one person said.

More than three-quarters of respondents said workers who share controversial opinions risk being professionally ostracised. One person commented that people working in the sector are “nowhere near as open as they pretend to be, there is a lot of hiding and backstabbing”.


Writing at the Times of London, Richard Morrison offers some more excerpts from the report:

Take Brexit. I knew that most arts people were fervently against it, but I didn’t realise how much pressure was put on pro-Brexiteers working in the arts to, basically, shut up. One participant claimed that “in our organisation those who voted to leave the EU have been ostracised”. Another noted that “17.4 million voted for Brexit”, but that “most of the opinions of these people, on many subjects, would lose them employment in the publicly funded arts sector”.

The Brexit issue, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. The report suggests that you are as likely to be bullied into silence if you don’t support left-of-centre political parties. The arts, one participant asserted, “are now dominated by a monolithic politically correct class [mostly of privileged white middle-class people] who impose their intolerant views across the sector”. Arts workers, another commented, are “unable to challenge anything that’s extremely left wing or politically correct for fear of being called racist, xenophobic, bigoted etc”. The arts sector, someone else declared, is “a quagmire of wokeness”…

Sexuality and gender are also no-go areas. “Artists, particularly women artists, are afraid to contest trans rights activists’ positions,” one participant claims, “for fear of vitriolic verbal and sometimes physical violence against them.”


I wonder how different, if at all, this is from the reality in Hollywood. It sounds like the same group of woke progressives who simultaneously pat themselves on the back for their openness while eagerly ostracizing anyone who dares to offer an opinion not approved by the collective.

And it’s not just Hollywood. Would it be much different among the faculty at most US colleges? I can tell you from experience that the world of journalists is full of the same clique of woke progressives who dominate the industry and shun those with differing views.

I really do believe this is the future progressives want for everyone: A place just like the UK art world where progressives dominate every discussion because anyone who disagrees has learned to stay silent out of fear of being punished either personally or professionally.

Finally, here’s the AP’s description of the photo above: “A woman looks towards part of an artwork called ‘Lichen! Libido! (London!) Chastity!’ by Anthea Hamilton, one of the four artists shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2016, as it is displayed at the Tate Britain gallery in London, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art.”


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David Strom 5:20 PM | April 15, 2024