MEAA statement on freedom of political opinion in relation to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Israel and Palestine
In response to increasing expressions of concern from our membership, the Musicians, Equity, and Entertainment, Crew and Sport sections of MEAA support the rights of arts workers to be able to express their political opinions within their professional workplaces and creative spaces without fear of retribution.
Musical and artistic expression have long been a vehicle for political commentary and a lens through which we examine the world, and MEAA is concerned that freedom of expression is being compromised across artforms within the creative industries.
Public responses to MEAA members’ expression of their political opinion has caused distress, with members experiencing a lack of support or understanding by those with power within the industry. Personal attacks against musicians and performers are testing our professional relationships within our industry in ways many have not experienced before.
MEAA advocates for professional security, well-being, and the freedom to express opinions without fear of silencing, censorship or so-called ‘blacklisting’, regardless of one’s political position.
We appeal to those working in leadership positions within the music and arts industries (board members, artistic directors, bookers, venue owners, artist managers, band leaders, agencies etc.) to adhere to the following:
- Employees are protected under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) to have and express their political opinion. Any conduct or threat of conduct such as termination of contract, engaging in disciplinary measures, reduction of duties, limitation of participation could place an employer in a position of breaching workplace law.
- Unsolicited contact with arts workers regarding their personal political beliefs either privately or on social media may be perceived as a conflict of interest and unprofessional or unethical conduct.
- Due to the precarious and competitive nature of work in the gig economy, artists should not feel the need to restrict the expression of their opinions for fear of damaging their careers in both the short and long term.
- Many in our arts community feel an obligation to speak out about this crisis within the context of their religious and/or cultural identity. MEAA strongly believes this should be acknowledged and respected within our industry.
We also encourage musicians and arts workers to be aware of the conditions under which they are engaged, and their own conduct toward each other in professional and creative settings.
MEAA takes allegations of harassment and censorship extremely seriously and will support its members in pursuing professional and personal safety (both physical and mental) and their freedom to express political opinions.