Academy of Ideas

Do the right thing? The moral responsibility of the artist

March 15, 2019

Recording of a debate at the Battle of Ideas Festival 2018.

‘There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.’ Oscar Wilde’s view of art as essentially an aesthetic pursuit, one concerned with transcendent beauty and the human condition, has arguably now been superseded. But artists are routinely being ‘called out’ if their work represents minority groups in a light that is perceived as negative. The Globe’s new director, Michelle Terry, has been applauded for using blind casting to combat alleged inequality in the arts. Should art be judged on whether or not it is sending the right message? What are the implications for artists themselves?

JON BRITTAIN
staff writer, Netflix’s The Crown; playwright, Rotterdam; comedy writer; director, Sight Gags for Perverts, Shtick and Don’t Bother, They’re Here

JAMES DREYFUS
award winning television, film and theatre actor

MO LOVATT
writer and researcher specialising in arts and culture policy; co-chair, The Great Debate

KIMBERLY MCINTOSH
policy offcer, The Runnymede Trust and Race on the Agenda; writer, Guardian, gal-dem

CHAIR: ANDREW DOYLE
writer and comedian; co-author, Jonathan Pie: Off The Record