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Artist & Poet Sentenced to Death in Saudi Arabia

20 November 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Saudi Arabia Sentences Palestinian Artist & Poet to Death | A Palestinian poet and artist has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for renouncing Islam. Ashraf Fayadh, a member of the Anglo-Saudi organisation Edge of Arabia who has curated exhibitions in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale, has been given 30 days to appeal against the sentencing. Fayadh, who was arrested for his supposed heresy in January 2014, is accused of publicly blaspheming, promoting atheism and conducting ‘illicit relationships’ with women. He denies all charges. If Fayadh appeals, the result may well decide the future of Saudi Arabia’s fledgling arts community.

Australian Government Overhauls Arts ‘Slush Fund’ | Good news for the Australian arts community. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government has made moves towards restructuring a controversial arts funding scheme introduced by the previous administration, which was widely criticised as vulnerable to political interference. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australia Council will be returned the $32 million that was stripped from it under the last government.

Lyon Festival of Light Cancelled | Gérard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon, has announced that the city’s annual Festival of Light is to be cancelled this year due to an ‘elevated’ risk of terrorist threat following last Friday’s massacres in Paris. According to Le Journal des Arts, the Festival, which was scheduled for 8 December, will be replaced by an homage to the victims of the Paris attacks. It will doubtless be an altogether more solemn affair than originally expected.

UK Art Donors: More Support Needed for Regional Galleries | Art dealers Ivor Braka and Thomas Dane have donated works by artists including Tracey Emin and Gilbert & George to Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery, calling on other potential philanthropists to make similar donations to regional galleries. According to the BBC, Braka stated that British galleries outside London were ‘not up to the standard’ found in the US, describing them as ‘tired’. It can only be hoped that others follow their example.

Bob & Roberta Smith Writes Letter of Protest to George Osborne | Artist and campaigner Bob & Roberta Smith has written an open letter to UK Chancellor George Osborne, criticising the British government’s attitude towards art education with particular reference to the Cass School, where Smith himself is a tutor. He will be reading the letter in public at London’s William Morris gallery this evening, though whether the Chancellor will respond remains to be seen.

Michael McGinnis to Step Down as President of Phillips | After 16 years at Phillips, the auction house’s President Michael McGinnis is to step down and leave the company, reports ArtNews. McGinnis, who is leaving to pursue a career in the ‘non-auction side of the art business’, will serve his last day on 30 November. It is as yet unclear who will replace him as President.