playwright, poet and Scots Makar
It doesn't surprise me that the Edinburgh International Festival under Jonathan Mills is not interested in commissioning or showing work around the theme of independence. He has never been very interested in work that is Scottish, let alone about independence. It is disappointing but predictable to me.
David Greig, playwright
I think his quote was taken out of context. As far as I can tell there is no actual ban, he was just saying he has not as yet commissioned work around the theme of the independence referendum.
That is a different thing. But I would ask him to have a think about the ways in which he could provide space for people to discuss the issues, using the great art that he will bring here. I am a concerned about the word "about" which appears so often in this discussion. I think there is a tyranny in that word, in talking of work "about" the independence referendum.
I could go to a performance of Beethoven and it might make me think of revolution, change and nationalism in 18th century Europe, but is it "about" that? As long as Jonathan Mills is bringing interesting art from around the world it will reflect these themes of power and independence and nationalism. These issues could be programmed into the interstices of the festival's programme.
All festivals have a duty to create spaces that are non-political party spaces to debate these issues.
David Hayman, actor
This is nothing but censorship of the worst kind. I think Jonathan Mills is sticking his head in the sand and it is disgraceful. It's shameful. What is he going to do next year with the Commonwealth Games raising the issue of gay and lesbian and transgender rights? Will he also say that gay subjects shouldn't appear in the festival because it's too political?
He's the gatekeeper and if he doesn't include these subjects then in fact that's censorship. For a start, he's not a Scot, so maybe he's a little bit frightened.
But there's been a reaction and that's healthy, that's how it should be. You've got to remember you've got the strength and the power of the Fringe also in Edinburgh at the same time.
Alasdair Gray, writer
Jonathan Mills might not have used the word "ban", but to not include something sounds very much like a ban. I take it he's banning any work containing any element of political controversy, then? And if he's banning any mention of political controversy and any work containing any mention of political controversy, it's going to be a duller festival than usual.
But, if it's only Scottish political controversy and not everyone else's political controversy, not German or French for instance, and everyone else can say what they like, then I think that sounds like Scotophobic prejudice. But that's to be expected from a person in his position. The whole practice of appointing non-Scots to these positions is Scotophobic itself.
Rachel Maclean, artist
It is important there is a diverse, creative and engaging debate about the referendum within the arts. Political debate can often be over-simplified, but culture offers room for a more complex and nuanced exploration of both the arguments for and against independence.
I respect Jonathan Mills's decision not to make independence a focus of the programme. However, I am concerned by his decision to focus on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. This seems to imply, not a political impartiality, but rather a bias towards a focus on the Union.
However, the arts have a capacity to deal with themes in complex and critical ways, so it is only fair to hold out judgement until the full programme is released.
David Harrower, playwright
The immediate, widespread response of incredulity and disbelief to his statement speaks for itself. How an internationally renowned arts festival (half of whose budget is from the public purse) can refuse to engage with a crucial debate affecting Scotland - and with ramifications for the rest of the UK and Europe - is deeply disappointing.
I'd argue this action defends the status quo - relegating the independence debate to something "not worth bothering about", reflecting precisely how some of the more negative oppositional voices in the debate wish it to be seen.
Kevin Williamson, writer
All art is political in that its drawn from the grand social chaos of life - some more overtly than others.
This year's EIF included a performance of Allen Ginsberg's work by Patti Smith. Ginsberg was an overtly political poet, an anti-war activist, as indeed is Smith, which suggests there are some double standards going on.
However, I do sympathise with Mills in that programming events dealing with Scottish independence just a few weeks before the country votes could be problematic, especially if either side is seen to be favoured. I'm planning on staging my own show in 2014, as many other artists will do, so it's not as if the issue won't be included.
Alan Bissett, novelist
This strikes me as an act of creative cowardice. What message does it send to the rest of the world when, in our most visible international arts platform, we are ducking the single biggest issue facing Scotland in more than 300 years?
Surely international visitors will expect such a discourse and think the absence of it very odd.
Mills claims he wants the EIF to remain a "neutral space", but the very act of erasing the debate is itself a political choice, especially given the EIF is not avoiding the politically-loaded First World War commemorations.
I could understand if he were to commission a piece exploring the independence issue, but refusing to choose a side and pretend the debate is not happening means the relevance and significance of the EIF next year will be diminished.
Peter Arnott, playwright
While I can understand the festival can't take sides, it takes a very special kind of myopia to regard the First World War and the latter days of the Empire as "non-political".
It's exactly the same wilful myopia that interprets the independence debate as "Braveheart and all that", as David Cameron did recently.
The relationship of the EIF to Scottish culture, as with other parts of the "establishment", has never been less than tricky.
I've been informed several times from on high that there's really no such thing as a Scottish theatre. Indifference from on high hasn't stopped us from developing our culture in the past, and it isn't going to stop us now
Jim Sutherland, composer
To remain politically neutral is not to ignore the issues but to be open to, or to present both sides of an argument, and that argument is raging. You only have to look at social media to see how heated the public debate can get.
Every day, Facebook sees life-long friends falling out publicly, while at the same time new friendships and alliances are being forged in the name of democracy. This is the artistic catalyst of our times and the EIF ignores it?
Andy Arnold, theatre director
I can see where he's coming from, because the whole focus of the EIF is artistic excellence. Also, given his funding, he can't be perceived to have a festival appearing to court the idea of independence.
However, it is such a major issue and there's a danger of an arts event being above it all. Much great art, after all, is inspired by political themes. Some of the greatest work has been inspired by politics, whether it's Picasso's Guernica or Pinter's plays. The festival could be a platform without in appearing to have a view one way or the other. This is a great opportunity missed. Artistic quality should be at the fore in the EIF, but given the arts are often politically inspired, politics should be in there as well.
Sophie Cooke, novelist
To avoid addressing independence is to miss the opportunity of exploring a crucial moment in Scotland's life, so this is a terrible omission. Jonathan Mills is quite right to say the EIF should be neutral, but you can be neutral without being silent.
A lot of people feel conflicted about independence and would be interested in seeing works that look at it as an opportunity that comes with risks, costs and benefits. If the 2014 EIF is going to be themed around the Commonwealth and the First World War, I'm not convinced it's achieving its aims of staying neutral.
Denise Mina, novelist
I don't think the EIF is going to be able to keep the issue out. We've got a year to make use of this opportunity to start a proper discussion. The discussion has become very narrow and people are stating their positions. Nobody is really listening to each other and the festival would have been a great opportunity to listen.
Meanwhile, artists such as Rachel Maclean, who is holding a symposium on the issue, are setting their own things up. I think there is a good reason that the artists want to tackle this and that is because the arts are about asking open questions that don't lead to simplistic answers.
Politics, law and television panel shows are about asking closed questions. The arts are one of the places where we can discuss the more abstract notions. It's a real missed opportunity by Jonathan Mills. It's fearful and it's a shame.
Jenny Lindsay, poet
My initial reaction was he was being foolish rather than censorious, though I completely understand people's outrage. It was the reporting of it that made it sound like an outright "ban" rather than, as it seems it was, just a rather strange idea that the arts can ever be politically "neutral".
It was almost as if he was saying that, because he didn't know what the outcome would be, he had decided to stay out of the conversation. That is fair enough on a personal level, though quite muddy thinking on the part of an artistic director.