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Last modified: Monday, February 25, 2008

IU ArtsWeek panel discussion to explore “Censorship and the Arts”

Feb. 25, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Artists and advocates will explore the meaning of censorship and its implications for the visual and performing arts in an Indiana University panel discussion this Thursday, Feb. 28.

The "Censorship and the Arts" discussion is a signature event of ArtsWeek 2008, a campus and community celebration organized this year around the theme of arts and politics. It will take place in room 121 of the Law School. The panel will run from 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., including questions from the audience, and will be followed by a reception.

"I think it's going to be very lively -- and very interactive," said Fred Cate, distinguished professor of law at the IU School of Law--Bloomington, who will moderate the discussion.

Panelists will include:

  • James Fitzpatrick, IU Law alumnus and senior partner with the Washington, D.C., law firm Arnold & Porter, and a well known advocate for and patron of the arts.
  • Bruce Fein, an attorney and civil liberties advocate who writes columns for the Washington Times and Slate and served as general counsel to the Federal Communications Commission in the Reagan Administration.
  • Janet Allen, artistic director of the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, the only fully professional resident not-for-profit theatre in the state.
  • Breshaun Joyner, education director of Bloomington Playwrights Project, an organization dedicated to supporting local theater and providing avenues for theater artists to produce their work.

Cate, a specialist in information privacy and security law issues, said he expects the discussion to focus on the meaning of censorship and whether it has changed in recent years -- for example, whether expressing political dissent through the arts has become more difficult since the 9/11 attacks.

"It's my perception that we see less direct censorship -- the Cincinnati prosecutor trying to shut down the art gallery -- and more subtle forms of censorship, more censorship masquerading as other things," Cate said.

Fitzpatrick, a 1959 IU Law graduate, has lectured and spoken widely on the "culture wars" of the late 1980s and early 1990s, in which members of Congress battled the National Endowment for the Arts over controversial exhibits and projects. He was president of Washington Project for the Arts, which presented photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's "The Perfect Moment" after the Corcoran Gallery in Washington canceled the exhibit. (The Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and its director were indicted for obscenity in 1990 over the Mapplethorpe show).

Fitzpatrick has been on the boards of the Center for Arts and Culture, the Phillips Collection and other arts organizations. He has testified at congressional hearings on laws regarding the international art trade and has represented the Commissioner of Baseball, the Recording Industry of America and the American Red Cross.

Fein, a Harvard Law School graduate, served in the Justice Department and the FCC in the Reagan Administration and recently served on the American Bar Association's task force on presidential signing statements. He has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation and a lecturer at the Brookings Institute. A conservative who criticizes the current Bush Administration over domestic surveillance practices and other issues, he is co-founder of American Freedom Agenda.

Allen has been artistic director of the Indiana Repertory Theatre for 10 years and has been with the organization for 24 years. She has significantly expanded IRT education services and helped lead a $16.5 million capital endowment campaign that resulted in renovations of IRT public spaces and the establishment of an endowment fund. Her passion for nurturing playwrights has led to the creation and production of six new works that examine Hoosier and Midwestern sensibilities.

Joyner, a native of Los Angeles, has been part of Bloomington's theater scene for almost 15 years. She has directed sold-out productions of four Shakespeare plays for BPP's Youth Shakespeare Company, teaches playwriting at Templeton Elementary School and conducts workshops for students. She has supervised after-school drama clubs at elementary schools and has won local recognition and national awards for curriculum development.