A national survey has revealed arts workers are regularly self-censoring their views and work, to avoid a backlash from the public, funding bodies and colleagues.
Of more than 500 people who were polled by ArtsProfessional, two thirds identified as being directly involved in creating or presenting artistic work.
The survey found that creative decisions are being affected by a “culture of censorship”, with 45% of survey participants saying they have felt “pressurised, intimidated, ostracised, coerced, trolled, harassed or bullied, either in person or on digital media”, in reaction to their work.
More than 80% of survey participants agreed that workers in the arts and cultural sector who share controversial opinions risked being “professionally ostracised”, while almost two-thirds said they had felt or experienced coercion or pressure from colleagues.
The survey found self-censoring was caused by issues including opinions relating to Brexit, fear of being accused of racism for holding right-wing views and fear of attack from trans activists.
The risk of losing funding if sponsors were criticised was also a reason.
Despite this, almost 90% of respondents agreed that the arts and cultural sector had a responsibility to use its “unique talents to speak out about things that matter, regardless of the potential consequences”.
ArtsProfessional editor Amanda Parker said: “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.
“What’s most important is for us as a community is to find a way to heal the hurt and develop strong and lasting ways for us to accept different viewpoints without risking personal safety or livelihood.”
“We’ve already started that conversation with the sector and look forward to it bearing fruit,” she added.