The Festival of the Future City is a forum for debate and discussion. It believes that free and open discussion is essential to the betterment of society, the education of citizens and to the life and work of the city. It cherishes liberty of thought and speech. It does not shy away from difficult and challenging ideas, nor does it seek to exclude speakers who make challenging statements which some may find difficult – indeed, it often welcomes such speakers if there are good reasons for believing these opinions are supported by a strong case which demands an intelligent response. We believe that it is better to challenge provocative statements and positions in open fora rather than ban them, although no one will be invited simply in the name of controversy and debate.

Fears or complaints that someone may be offensive will never be grounds for not inviting a speaker, or for banning a speaker once invited. The only grounds for this will be if the law may be broken or that public safety may be in jeopardy. A speaker, for example, who incites an audience to violence or to breach of the peace transgresses the law. The principle of free speech can also be abused by the use of threatening words or behaviour including the display of writing, signs or other visible representations which are intended to provoke racial or religious hatred or hatred on grounds of sexual orientation, or to encourage or draw people into terrorism. Equally, assemblies of persons, even if directed to lawful purposes, cease to be lawful if they cause serious disorder or breaches of the peace. Where speakers are accused prior to an event of being excessively provocative, and where there is a possibility of law breaking or public disorder, we will always allow speakers the right of reply before making a decision to proceed or not.

As an audience member we ask you to abide by our Freedom of Speech policy and the law.

We welcome open and robust questioning but during events ask you to be respectful and considerate towards other audience members and our speakers.

We permit the use of social media during our events as long as this is done quietly. If anyone has an issue with someone else in the audience, please speak to a member of BCDP/Festival of the Future City or venue staff. Aggressive or anti-social behaviour towards audience members, staff or speakers before, during and after an event will not be tolerated.