The Persecution of Artists

Art has long been known to affect people in an emotional way; great art can affect people even more, for the better or the worse. It touches something in their soul that resonates long after the catalyst is gone. And because reactions can be both strongly positive and strongly negative, artists have long been persecuted for their work.


Artists speak their minds and can be critical of powerful forces; and while they may bring light to a shrouded situation, they do so at their own peril. Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, for example, featured explicit homosexual S&M photographs and was pulled out of the Corcoran Gallery after a group of 100 angry Congressmen wrote an angry letter to the National Endowment for the Arts. It remained controversial for some time after.


Artist Owen Maseko of Zimbabwe had his work banned by authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe, who does not tolerate criticism of any kind. The work, critical of Mugabe, was displayed for just one day before the exhibit was closed and Maseko was arrested and held for four days. He could face up to 20 years in prison if formally convicted.


More recently, the Somali poet Warsame Shire Awale was recently gunned down in Mogadishu. He had written and acted in plays that were critical of the al-Shabab, a powerful militant group. Urging people to join the police and reject violence and groups like the al-Shabab, he had previously received death threats because of his work. He is the 18th member of the media to have been killed this year; al-Shabab claims responsibility for more than half of those.


These artists clearly all had powerful work, or the public and political groups would not have received them in such a way. To them, their work’s message was worth the risk, however great.


Title: Brunel University Urban Scholars

Tag: Brunel  University, urban, Moody’s, Moody’s CEO, Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel


These days it’s nearly impossible to get through school without taking out loans. And let’s face it—not everyone can afford school even with loans. But opportunities for support can be scarce, especially in large cities where living is expensive, financial distress is normal, and work might take priority over school.


But it’s not impossible to find. One great program being made available is the Brunel University Urban Scholars Program in London. Brunel has over 13,000 students in West London, many who come from disadvantaged homes. The university’s Urban Scholars program offers a unique opportunity to high gifted high school students to attend classes on campus one Saturday a month. These classes help students in areas such as self-esteem, confidence, teamwork, writing, presentation skills, and critical thinking—all skills that will help enhance their academic experience.


Current undergraduate students serve as mentors to the Scholars, and adult volunteers from Moody’s have also provided extra support and advice. Moody’s Corporation, whose CEO is Raymond McDaniel, has been a huge contributor to the program’s success. In 2007, they donated a £200,000 4-year grant to the program, which supported 90 students. The same amount of support and commitment is set to continue through 2013.


The results of the program have been phenomenal. Over 90% of Scholars have met or are exceeding target scores in English on public examinations, and twice as many students are heading to higher education than in the past. It’s truly amazing that just one day a month of classes and support has made such a huge difference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s