Jafar Panahi filming No Bears

Jafar Panahi filming No Bears

Posted by:

Clare Reddington CEO

on Thu 3 Nov 2022

If we tolerate this...

Posted on Thu 3 Nov 2022

Arts organisations from Bristol have come together to raise awareness of the possible risks to the future of freedom of expression, using the hashtag #67MillionVoices.

We believe that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association is a fundamental cornerstone of any democratic society, and a necessity for the creative life of our country.

From Ken Loach’s powerful condemnation of a broken welfare system to Patricio Guzmán's series of films documenting Chilean oppression, cinema has a proud tradition of protest and activism. Our current Out of Arcadia series delves into pressing questions of access and ownership of land. Imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s latest film No Bears, a witty and resounding act of artistic and political expression, opens at Watershed next week, and many of the creatives our community use their work to engage people in civil rights, environmental rights and justice.

Bristol is a city of civic action with everything from bridges to buses, supermarkets to statues forming the backdrop to centuries of resistance that has helped to advance workers and civic rights nationally and we believe the right to protest in the city, amd across the Uk must be protected.

The Public Order Bill risks criminalising our fundamental rights of freedom of expression - to share our views, to raise our voice and to take action.

We are concerned that the proposed changes allow disproportionate use of powers to restrict and control in a way that contradicts our collective aims of freedom of expression, including banning orders to completely remove a person’s right to attend a protest. This is not about the rights and wrongs of toppling a statue, but about the human right to protest against environmental and societal harm.

Watershed is proud to join others in the city in stating our opposition to The Public Order Bill and the impact it would have on our communities and context. We commit to continuing to programme work that explores protest, continue to support artists who engage in protest and continue to research how we as an organisation can best use our assets to support change.

Take action today

Locally and globally, the right to peaceful assembly and protest are fundamental principles of any democracy. As part of Bristol’s DIY Arts Network, Watershed joins organisations across the city to oppose the Bill and we call on MPs to vote it down.

What you can do

✔ Write to your MP to ask them to protect your rights to peaceful, by asking that the proposed parts of the proposed Public Order Bill giving the police disproportionate powers to tackle lawful protests are removed.

✔ Amplify our collective message on social media

✔ Get Informed - read the online timeline of events so far

Sign Liberty's petition to drop proposals in the Public Order Bill

#67millionvoices make culture - use yours today

Bristol DIY Arts Network is an independent gathering of arts organisations and arts practitioners, large and small, who deliver cultural programmes within the city of Bristol. We meet regularly to advocate for the sector and to discuss and inform policy.

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