The public forum Art and Outrage, organized by and held at the WAG, addresses issues of artistic controversy and censorship in public galleries. Among the speakers is the controversial American photographer Andres Serrano.
Issues of censorship, public morality, and government support for the arts resonate internationally at this time, in light of controversies erupting in 1989 from the sexually explicit and blasphemous nature of work by artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989), Lucas Samaras, and Andres Serrano. The WAG’s summer newsletter reports that “nearly 200 people registered for the all-day forum on March 31. The audience represented a broad segment of the arts community, gallery members, religious fundamentalists, and the general public.” Following the forum, debate erupted in newspapers, with some people calling the event an expression of freedom of speech and others condemning the public funding of controversial art. Winnipeg Councilors Al Golden, John Prystanski, and Harry Lazarenko went as far as calling for the withdrawal of city funding from the Gallery.