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The symposium is a reaction to current debate over the role of the National Endowment for the Arts and to two plays being presented by InterAct Theatre, both of which address themes of censorship. Ntozake Shange, author of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, stressed the censoring effect of mainstream language, which she says is forced upon minorities by a monolithic system that includes employers and the media. "We are functioning inside a language that is censoring our ability to talk about censorship," she said. ICA Director Robert Murphy showed slides of the controversial exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and emphasized that censorship occurs when people get unfavorable reports of art, not when they see it for themselves. Lorna Littleway, InterAct director, made a similar statement. "It is not the public who has turned against us," she said, referring to debate over Mapplethorpe's exhibit. "It was a sheriff and a judge who found pornography in Cincinnati." The fourth panelist, Assistant English Professor Lynda Hart, discussed the political value of art, saying that the meaning of some art is what members of the NEA find threatening. "[Censorship] is obviously not a judgment of the artistic value of a work," she said. "It's a contestation over what meanings can be permitted." The audience of about 100 people was comprised mainly of students from the University theater community. -- Gayle Meyers

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