Croydon Council allocates £10,000 for 'sex toy and toilet' performance art festival

A London council has been criticised for spending thousands of pounds on a performance art festival featuring sex toys and someone going to the toilet.

Croydon allocated £10,000 for the event, which included one artist’s effort to “demystify the anus”.

Called the Biennial of International Performance Art and Noise, the event was produced by an organisation called Tempting Failure. Arts Council England contributed £38,000.

It included the work of Joseph Ravens, whose performance was described as containing “a series of modified butt plugs… Always sculptural and gracefully schizophrenic, each sex toy will embrace a different mood, from poignant to playful.

“The actions and objects are designed to enrapture rather than repel, in an effort to demystify the anus.”

Also booked for the festival were “body artists” Arianna Ferrari. Describing one work, their website states: “After ingesting a quantity of laxatives and diuretics … microphones are attached to the performer’s belly, detecting the sounds of their intestines.”

Meanwhile, Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch is famed for his use of animal blood, body parts and crucifixion.

The summer festival used Grade II-listed Braithwaite Halls, the David Lean Cinema and the town hall.

In a letter to organisers, council chiefs told them it was “important to Croydon for projects like yours to flourish and keep the tradition of great theatre in our town alive”.

But Tim Pollard, of the council’s opposition Conservative group, said: “This does not look like art to me. I have no objection to it going on, but do not think public money should be spent on it.”

Arts Council England said: “Challenging performance art might not be to everybody’s taste but our funding is here for everyone.” Croydon confirmed it had provided the funding but declined to comment further.

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