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GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2010 visual arts exhibition was held at Hampstead Town Hall in November 2010.  While the festival organisers  were putting up the exhibits that came from all over the UK and a few places across the world (the selection and organisation of the festival programme takes a good few months) they received a notification from the Hampstead Town Hall management, run by WAC, to cover a list of the artworks on two weekdays evenings and weekends when the exhibition was closed.  Jane Hoy, one of the volunteers at the exhibition and a freelance writer has written and published an article on this censorship.

GFEST artistic director Niranjan Kamatkar said, “It was an extremely difficult decision that we faced.  GFEST is a showcase for LGBT / glbt or gay artworks, films and performances that help challenge preconceived notions and also among the hard to reach communities, which the venue attracts. We opted for exhibiting the work as per the exhibition open times and comply with the venue stipulation. This was also in the hope that the town hall management would reconsider on the days, which they didn’t and insisted on covering the artworks on every occasion – post the official exhibition closing times. ”

The reasons provided for this censorship was that very young people (4 to 5 year old ) and their parents use the space during those times and the images might cause offense and may create security issues.

Niranjan said, “It was a no-win and very traumatic last minute decision, either to take down the exhibition or be forced to comply with their decision while also managing the rest of festival activities. Considering the lack of resources and recourse to an alternative venue, we opted for the latter and ensure that the exhibition goes ahead and viewers can make up their own mind whether the work warranted the censorship. Also we hope to engender a robust debate to combat any possibilities of future censorship of gay art on a technicality.”

He added, “We support the idea of alternative exhibition in near future of the artworks from this GFEST 2010 exhibition and are working towards it.”

The GFEST organisers have written to Hampstead Town Hall Trustees / board of management to seek their official response but haven’t heard anything as yet.

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In its fourth year, GFEST 2010  showcased short films, performances and visual artworks in exhibitions.
Full programme: http://www.gaywisefestival.org.uk/

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GFEST 2010  images on  http://www.flickr.com/photos/GFEST
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GFEST videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/wisethoughts
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More info on GFEST – Gaywise FESTival (GFEST in short) web: http://www.gaywisefestival.org.uk

GFEST Artistic Director: Niranjan Kamatkar

WISE THOUGHTS is an arts charity that organises GFEST – Gaywise FESTival  in venues across London. GFEST web networks: http://www.wisethoughts.org http://www.gaywisefestival.org.uk http://www.facebook.com/niranjan.kamatkar http://www.gaywisefestival.blogspot.com/ http://twitter.com/gfest https://gaywisefestival.wordpress.com/ http://www.yoursemotionally.com/ http://www.myspace.com/interviewwithapolitician http://www.flickr.com/photos/gfest/ http://www.youtube.com/user/wisethoughts http://uk.linkedin.com/in/niranjankamatkar http://www.myspace.com/gaywisefestival

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