Arts Council apologises for advert featuring Nina Simone

Organisation admits error in comparing challenges of racism with those of pandemic

The Arts Council has issued an apology over a recent advert in which a parallel was suggested between the challenges faced by the American singer Nina Simone in relation to racism over the course of her life and career and those experienced by artists during the pandemic.

“The Arts Council has recently been running a promotional campaign intended to convey the power of artistic expression during times of challenge. We understand that aspects of the campaign have unintentionally appeared insensitive and upsetting. That was not our intention,” the organisation said in a statement.

“We got it wrong on this occasion – sorry.”

The advert in question included a picture of the singer along with the caption: “Segregation couldn’t separate Nina Simone from her music”.


It also featured text beside her face that read: “White Only Waiting Room”.

The ad was part of a campaign that focused on artists who faced various challenges in the course of their work or personal lives.

The slogan for the campaign was “Art Flourishes In Spite Of Adversity”.

It was designed with the intention of drawing similarities between the struggles faced by artists in the past, to those currently being experienced due to the pandemic.

The advert based on Nina Simone, which was published in The Irish Times on Saturday, received serious criticism online.

One Twitter user highlighted how the council was “comparing covid restrictions to the Jim Crow laws of the US”.

Another user labelled the incident as “shockingly ignorant”, while a third user said the messaging was “quite muddled and negative”.

Many other users were critical and the apology from the Arts Council was welcomed.