The Art of Disobedience

Artists have power. The power not just to create, but also to transform

IETM, international network for the performing arts, launches its new publication The Art of Disobedience that looks at how art interferes and engages with politics. It is the third issue of IETM’s Fresh Perspectives – series of publications exploring how the contemporary arts sector is engaged with the crucial issues of today’s reality.  The Art of Disobedience is produced in collaboration with LIFT – London International Festival of Theatre and written by Daniel Gorman.

Artists have power. The power not just to create, but also to transform. For as long as ‘art’ has existed, it has been ‘socially-engaged’. Political art, socially-engaged art, art activism, is nothing new. However, the world is becoming more political. What role do artists have at this key moment, where political engagement and apathy lie side by side? What is art for?

Artist, cultural manager and activist Daniel Gorman is the author of this challenging publication. Talking from his own practical experience in Europe and in zones in times of conflict, he takes us on a journey through four crucial questions:

• What use are the arts when your country is burning?

• Can the arts help to build a better world?

• Can you accept funding for your arts coming from ethically controversial sponsors?

• Is it ‘right’ to call for the cultural boycott of a country?

With courage, experience and lucidity, the author presents the complexity of the topic, not giving in to pessimism, and providing food for thought both for seasoned practitioners and for beginners in the arena of politically engaged arts.

This publication focuses primarily on case studies which are based on in-person, online and email interviews, with further support from questionnaires completed by over 60 individuals from the IETM network and wider afield.

You can download The Art of Disobedience here.


Picture from Top Goon – courtesy of Masasit Mati