NYC Public Theater Delta Bank of America sponsorships pulled: Have corporate vendors capitulated to fears of offending certain market quarters? Freedom of expression?
Define art, storytelling, artistic license, political correctness and the idea that an art entity should never transgress for fear of offending certain sensibilities? These are some of the themes vexing corporate sponsors in NYC’s Public Theater production of Julius Caesar in Central Park.
Notes the nypost: ‘Delta Air Lines and Bank of America yanked their sponsorships of New York’s Public Theater on Sunday over its controversial staging of “Julius Caesar” — which features a Donald Trump look-alike playing the role of the assassinated title character.’
The decision to pull out comes after the free Shakespeare in the Park play sparked disconcert with what some deemed its too grisly portrayal of the president, Donald Trump and bloody climax.
Explained Delta in a released statement: ‘No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values’.
Adding, ‘Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste,’
‘We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of The Public Theater effective immediately.’
We are withdrawing our funding pic.twitter.com/MlaONF82FN
— Bank of America News (@BofA_News) June 12, 2017
Which is to wonder, is it all too close to home and do corporate vendors want to be seen abetting violence, even if in an artistic setting of political figures, particularly controversial political figures such as that of Donald Trump who has been the center of an onslaught of criticism ever since coming to office- and rightly so!
Nevertheless it raises the central question, to what degree should a corporate vendor lend its name to what many would construe as green lighting the use of violence in society (isn’t that after all what the French resorted to when they finally won their Freedom of Independence when they put Louis XVI to the guillotine?).
Or should we wonder that the last thing corporate vendors would ever wish to do is endorse the idea, of recrimination, revolt, (even in art) for fear that they too might eventually be the target of the public at large- which the public would have a strong case for given the rampant abuse of corporate power both in politics and commerce and their unbridled control of our society’s resources to the detriment of the wider collective.
To be sure, a sponsor is correct to insist on the type of vision any artistic production yields, it is after all their dollars at stake. Having said that, it is also the place of society and those who have the resources to ensure the continued promulgation of expression of ideas, even those ideas which it personally finds unpalatable, confrontational or hereditary.
BREAKING: Delta Airlines ends sponsorship of NYC Public Theater over Trump-like Julius Caesar assassination.
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) June 11, 2017
I wonder how much of this “art” is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does “art” become political speech & does that change things? https://t.co/JfOmLLBJCn
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 11, 2017
Others meanwhile believe the idea to back off (after having been in long standing with previous production) the result of not wishing to alienate a particular clientele that Trump’s presidency has attracted, aka alt right provocateurs, nationalists and white only Christian value faction. Better to keep the customer happy (and in one’s good graces) than be willing to take a stand for a variety of views, even controversial ones distressing to certain market growth areas. Indeed.
Tweeted journalist and author Mark Harris, ‘Corporate cowardice, Shame on @delta for capitulating to Fox and Breitbart’s calculated performative distress’
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) June 11, 2017
If a society is to grow, to foster greater understanding (which the NYC’s Public Theater non profit has made it their mission statement) it would be wise to allow the continued expression of ideas and ultimately let the audiences decide for themselves whether they are willing to accept or reject such notions.
Which is to wonder have Delta and Bank of America become so neutered and antithetical to the notion of artistic expression (and the notion of freedom of expression) that they can only fathom a neutered dialogue that keeps the status quo in place? And if so, perhaps they might want to run their own theatrical production in their vast corporate marbled lobbies and let the public judge for themselves if they are willing to abide by their supposedly altruistic sentiments …..
— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) June 11, 2017
— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) June 12, 2017