NEW YORK—In response to a decision by Delta Airlines and Bank of America to withdraw sponsorship from the Public Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel released the following statement:

“Corporate sponsors’ tendency to shy away from controversy is nothing new, and they are well within their rights to extend their support to—and withdraw it from—whichever artistic projects they choose. The withdrawal of particular sponsors from The Public Theater’s Julius Caesar underscores the importance of sustaining a wide breadth of sources of support for the arts so that creative expression is not contingent on the predilections of a corporate boardroom or a presidential administration.

Withdrawing previously committed support to an artistic project in response to its content risks chilling creative freedom writ large as artists and institutions steer clear of subjects and viewpoints that may jeopardize their ability to sustain their work. Benefactors that are committed to artistic freedom have an essential role in safeguarding the breadth of creative expression at a time when controversies may scare away those who are subject to corporate constraints.

We applaud The Public Theater, a longtime partner of PEN America, in standing strong in defense of their work and insisting that the show will go on. The arts offer a vital lens at a time of crisis and tension. It is essential that artists can freely explore important fissures in society to spur new ideas and open spaces for public debate, even when doing so risks offense and raises questions of decorum or good taste.”

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.  Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Sarah Edkins, Communications Director: +1 646.779.4830, sedkins@pen.org