Speakers include: Linda Bellos - campaigner, political activist, former leader of Lambeth Council and director of Diversity Solutions Consultancy Ltd; Karen Chouhan - chair, Black Londoners Forum, board member 1990 Trust and recipient of JRCT Visionary Award; Shirley Dent - communications director, Institute of Ideas and development editor of reviews website www.culturewars.org.uk; Louise Jury - journalist, arts correspondent, The Independent; Humera Khan - freelance consultant, researcher, founder member An-Nisa Society, founding editor Q-News; and Claire Fox - Director, Institute of Ideas, panelist on BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze.
Art and literature can hit where it hurts. Artists can deal with the extremes of the human condition, giving us access to experiences beyond our own lives. But what happens when things turn nasty and art offends, upsets, or angers? From the fury of Sikhs at the play Bezhti in 2004, or Christians at Jerry Springer the Opera in 2005, to the protests in 2006 at the filming of Monica Ali's Brick Lane by those who objected to her portrayal of the Bangladeshi community, it seems we live in an atmosphere of heightened sensitivity to anything that might cause offense. Will more arts organizations feel unable to withstand pressure to curtail the free expression of art? Will we see more of the sort of self-censorship exercised by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which canceled its production of Mozart's Idomeneo because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad?- Institute of Ideas
Linda Bellos works on mainstreaming equality and diversity within the British Army and the Metropolitan Police Service.
She is an Independent Advisor to the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and acts in a scrutiny role on equality and diversity issues for a number of public bodies. Bellos now runs her own consultancy, Diversity Solutions LTD, together with her partner, Caroline Jones, providing solutions to improve equality and diversity outcomes within the commercial, public and voluntary sectors.
They recently joined designers Tony Malone and John Marsh to create the venture Design for Diversity. On 9 December 2002, she was presented (together with Stephen Bourne) with the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Awards "in recognition of outstanding contribution in supporting the local community."
For 12 years Karen Chouhan was a senior Lecturer at Leicester's De Montfort University where she was the programme leader for the MA in Community Education.
Currently, she is the managing director of REDRAPP (Race and Ethnic Diversity Research and Policy Partnership). She was particularly involved in developing partnerships for change between academia and grass roots activism in Black communities. She specialized in training, programmes and policy development in Europe wide anti discriminatory practice and managing diversity.
Shirley Dent is Communications Director for the Institute of Ideas, the Battle of Ideas and development editor of Culture Wars, the reviews website of the Institute of Ideas.
Shirley researched the editorial and bibliographic history of William Blake's works for her PhD, and co-authored a book on the subject with Jason Whittaker, Radical Blake: Afterlife and Influence from 1827. She is writing an essay on the critic and editor Anne Gilchrist for the collection Women Read William Blake: 'Opposition is True Friendship.'
Previously, Dent was assistant editor of the New Humanist magazine, and Head of Communications at the Policy Studies Institute.
Louise Jury is the Arts Correspondent for The Independent.
Humera Khan is Founder of the pioneering An-Nisa Society in Wembley, she has been an activist and educator for over 20 years, working in race relations, the voluntary sector and social services for people of all backgrounds and faiths.
Humera is also a commentator, contributing regularly to mainstream and independent media, as well an author of a groundbreaking series on Islam and sexual health. No stranger to current debates on integration, multiculturalism and community cohesion, Humera was a member of the Cantle Commission established in the aftermath of the 2001 disturbances, sat on the Forced Marriage Working Group and the post-7/7 Preventing Extremism Together taskforce. Humera helped found Britain's leading Muslim magazine, Q-News Magazine of which she remains Contributing Editor today.
Humera has been a pioneer in the struggle to have faith-based identities - especially that of Muslims - recognized. She remains a powerful, critical and independent advocate for positive social change and an inclusive, just Britain.