Home » VoCA Rumour…Vancouver Olympics Censoring Art

VoCA Rumour…Vancouver Olympics Censoring Art

Rumour has it that some artists aren’t pleased with the way the Vancouver Olympics is being handled.


Image: mediacoop.ca

We’ve been hearing rumblings for some time now of artists being censored, their ‘anti-Olympics’ works removed or under threat of removal and constraints being put on artists who are being commissioned to make works to showcase Vancouver’s visual art scene.

Much of the debate arises from this contractual clause: “The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC (the organizing committee), the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC.”

Vancouver has the most condensed area of homelessness and addiction in Canada and many Vancouver artists take inspiration from the grittiness of the Downtown East Side. We can imagine that they wouldn’t agree with an Olympic Committee that may be glossing over this aspect of the city.

Art without free speech is simply propaganda“, says The BC Civil Liberties Association president Rob Holmes.


Image: abstractgraffiti.net

Visual art can – must – never be censored. In fact, much of what passes for contemporary art today are rather straightforward comments on societal issues, be they the environment, technological obsolescence, multiculturalism etc etc. So how can the Olympic Committee ask them not to comment?

On the other hand, the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) would want to ensure that the artists paint Vancouver in a kind light. So what to do?


Image: dabbersnatwich.me.uk

Click HERE to listen to a fascinating audiocast by David Eby, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association on, VANOC’s constitutional accountability, free speech and the disallowance of “celebratory signs.”

He says: ‘“You have a situation where, even if it’s only theoretical, a system of power has been created within municipal workers to enter into private property…to remove signs within the properties of people that live there.

Artists don’t take kindly to censorship.  Was VANOC correct in inserting the clause, given that the likelihood of negatively-themed artwork was fairly low?  What’s the big deal?  Or should VANOC have avoided the issue by not including it?  Apparently, this is the first time that anything of the sort has been imposed by an Olympic Committee.

What do you think?

5 Responses to “VoCA Rumour…Vancouver Olympics Censoring Art”

  1. Nicholas Brown says:

    VANOC are scum. Many, many people voted against the Olympic bid in a referendum in 2003 and were vilified for doing so (evidently we were all opposed to the triumph of the human spirit). The chickens are coming home to roost now and I’m glad I won’t be living in Vancouver during the Olympics. Whatever commissions and temporary support a few artists are getting from the 2010 Olympics are just a bandaid for the inevitable, negative long-term effects. All this for 17 days, I hope it’s worth it.

  2. David Spence says:

    The BIG scum of the Olympics lies more at the heart (and feet) of IOC than VANOC. The media is giving all those who object to the elite spirit of the GAMES all the ‘non-censorship’ ever they could expect or obtain for any other work of art.
    By the way, art also includes fashion and music and the edge of censorship. What about the creativity of Lululemon and their new line of fashion sport clothes “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2001 Edition” being too close to that edge.
    Furthermore, another act of censorship of artistic integrity demanded by IOC has led to the position of Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphonic Orchestra declining to play for the GAMES opening ceremonies because they would not be playing ‘live’ but only pretending to play under the pre-recorded taped music.
    One could also consider the food products that are the exclusivity of the GAMES, primarily MacDonalds and Coca Cola.
    I suppose that the place of censorship in the end can be understood as an integral part of a dialogue that happens with art work and the community; as well as the basic values of human society and hopes for dignity for all.

  3. joegee1 says:

    art has been commercialized and subject to corporate approval. funding for arts is administrated to death in canada or its given over to helping companies like loreal, and scotia bank to brand themselves as ‘hip’ .
    the ‘personalities’ of corporations are that of a sociopaths – they run our government and ultimately the canadian art scene suffers. which is why we are surrounded with the mediocre.

  4. joegee1 says:

    companies like mcdonalds, which have blatantly been painfully slow in eliminating trans fat (and knowingly served it to your kids for years – for their profit) shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor anything for 10 years- mcdonalds knowingly fed your kids crap oil for years- they should be censored from sponsorship & pay health canada a fine for the next 20 years….

  5. iVision4u says:

    As a Canadian I believe we need to be vigilant to the censorship of the IOC and other governing bodies. Our children should learn to recognize these infringements and we as parents sometimes need to show them that this is wrong. ‘O Canada we stand on guard for thee‘. There is a reason why we as Canadians take this oath as we award our athletes for their excellence and their service to themselves and their country. Today one of my daughters YouTube videos was censored by the IOC. I invite you to check out this over-the-top censorship at virtualwhistler.com

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