Freemuse is an independent international membership organisation advocating for and defending artistic freedom of expression.
We believe that art is not a crime.
Our advocacy work is achieved through campaigns, actions and projects that serve to protect or enhance artistic freedoms globally, as well as providing assistance to artists at risk. Since 2012 Freemuse holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), providing research and guidance on artistic freedom issues around the world.
We also document and monitor violations on artistic freedom globally, through original reporting, 24/7 media monitoring and via our extended network, culminating in an annual report, released in the beginning of the calendar year, framing the worldwide landscape of violations against artists expressing their artistic freedom.
Freemuse runs two websites featuring its work:
- freemuse.org – comprising Freemuse’s work focusing on music
- artsfreedom.org – comprising Freemuse’s work on all art forms
Freemuse is based out of Copenhagen, Denmark and is registered as a non-profit organisation: CVR/VAT number DK28161921.
Through the years the organisation has received funding from donors such as, Sida, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danida, Fritt Ord, CKU, Roskilde Festival Society Association, Sigrid Rausing Trust and others.
- About Freemuse
- Our Team
- How we work
- More Information
Freemuse was founded in 1998, borne out of the 1st World Conference on Music and Censorship held in Copenhagen, and focused on censorship in music, as conference attendees – which included musicians, journalists, researchers, record industry professionals and human rights activists – observed the urgent need to create a new organisation that represented musicians and composers who were suffering at the alarmingly widespread practice of censorship.
The organisation broadened its scope in 2011 to include advocacy, documentation and monitoring of artistic freedom across all art forms, initiating Artsfex, a global network of like-minded organisations, institutions and advocates all aimed at protecting artistic freedom across the world.
(Revised 16 September 2005 and 14 June 2015 at the Freemuse General Assembly)
I Name and Status
1.1 The name of the organisation is: FREEMUSE – Freedom of Musical Expression. The Secretariat is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hereafter in this Charter the organisation shall be referred to as Freemuse.
1.2 Freemuse is an association as defined by Danish law. Freemuse is a non-partisan and non-profit membership organisation dedicated to the welfare of the community, and no part of its net income shall accrue to the benefit of any private organisation or individual.
1.3 Freemuse may establish bases in other countries.
1.4 The secretariat may be moved to another country following a two-thirds majority decision by the Executive Committee.
1.5 For the purposes of this Charter, and the organisation, a musician is defined as anyone in any country active in the performance and/or composition of music or music lyrics, including participants in the dissemination and distribution, in any form, of public performance or over any media.
2.1 The objective of Freemuse is to advocate and defend musicians’ rights to freedom of musical creation, performance and publishing and citizens’ access to musical expressions as protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially articles 19 and 27, and under articles 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and in accordance with the recommendations made in the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights’ report, ‘The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity’. The content of these articles and recommendations is cited in Appendix II to this Charter.
2.2 Freemuse seeks to advance and defend freedom of musical and artistic expression and creativity through documenting, analysing, monitoring and publishing incidents of censorship and persecution of musicians. Freemuse seeks to assist musicians under threat through alert actions, observations of trials and reporting of violations to relevant international bodies.
2.3 Freemuse aims at serving as a focal point for a network of concerned musicians, individuals, organisations, institutions and media promoting rights to freedom of artistic expression and creativity.
3.1 Membership of Freemuse is open to all individuals, national, regional and international organisations, and institutions concerned with freedom of musical expression and artistic creativity that further and respect the aims and objectives of Freemuse.
3.2 Members can be:
a) paying members, who pay an annual fee;
b) supporting members who are supporting Freemuse, but do not pay a fee; or
c) honorary members, i.e. individuals who have made exceptional contributions to further the work of Freemuse. Honorary members do not pay a fee.
3.3 Members shall advance the interests of the organisation and avoid any action, which might discredit or damage the organisation or interfere with the achievement of its aims. The Executive Committee, with two-thirds majority, may exclude any member deemed to have violated the Charter and interests of Freemuse.
3.4 Members are obliged to inform the Freemuse secretariat of their current contact details.
3.5 The amount of the dues paid by paying members shall be determined by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee has the right to change the amount of dues after ninety (90) days’ notice to the membership.
3.6 Dues paid by paying members will be designated for Freemuse activities and actions.
IV Constituent Bodies and Meetings
4.1 The constituent bodies are a General Assembly, an Executive Committee, an Executive Director, a Board of Advisors, Ambassadors and a Secretariat. The authorities, responsibilities and procedures of these bodies are further specified in Appendix I to this Charter.
4.2 General Assembly
a) A General Assembly meeting is comprised of paying members in good standing.
b) An ordinary General Assembly meeting shall be held at least once every third year, on such date, time and place as shall be determined by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee may also call an extraordinary General Assembly meeting when deemed necessary.
c) The paying members shall be notified of the date of a General Assembly meeting at least three  months before the date of the meeting. An agenda, including proposed motions, shall be sent to the paying members no less than four  weeks before the General Assembly meeting.
d) At least eight  of the paying members in good standing shall constitute a quorum at a General Assembly meeting. At least three  members of the Executive Committee must be present. Participants in the General Assembly can be physically present at the venue or present through a telecommunication medium.
e) Paying members, whether individuals, institutions or organizations, shall each have one vote in the General Assembly meetings or at specially organized ballots, with decisions reached by simple majority, except when amending this Charter, which requires two-thirds majority. In the result of a tie, the Chair of the Executive Committee shall have the casting vote.
f) The authorities of the General Assembly meetings are:
i. to debate and vote on motions to amend this Charter;
ii. to debate and vote on other motions that have been put forward; and
iii. to vote on motions to appoint honorary members.
g) Motions to amend this Charter can be put forward by the Executive Committee or through a written proposal by a group of at least ten  paying members in good standing.
h) Other motions to the General Assembly may be put forward by any paying member or group of paying members in good standing.
i) All motions shall be submitted to the Executive Committee no later than eight  weeks prior to the Assembly in order to be included in the agenda.
j) Urgent motions may be presented at a General Assembly meeting at the discretion of the Executive Committee.
k) Any proposal to amend this Charter, approved by a two-thirds majority in a General Assembly meeting, shall stand adopted upon ratification by a simple majority of votes by paying members in good standing, received in a subsequent postal or electronic ballot organised within eight  weeks.
4.3 Executive Committee
a) The members of the Executive Committee shall be elected by the paying members in good standing by means of a postal or electronic ballot and simple majority. The Executive Committee and paying members in good standing can nominate candidates for elections of the Executive Committee. All nominations for the composition of the Executive Committee, other than those made by the Executive Committee, must reach the Secretariat in writing at least three  months before a General Assembly to be included in the postal or electronic ballot, which shall take place in the two  months preceding each ordinary meeting of the General Assembly. The results of the election shall be announced in the General Assembly meeting.
b) The elected Executive Committee shall be comprised of five  members. The members should, as far as possible, represent many facets of the purposes of Freemuse and reflect gender balance.
c) The Executive Committee can co-opt up to two  members, who will serve until the next General Assembly.
d) Members of the Executive Committee shall be elected for a term lasting to the second ordinary General Assembly after their term has begun with the possibility of re-election only twice.
e) In the event of the death or resignation of any of its members, the Executive Committee may appoint a substitute to fill the vacancy until the next ordinary General Assembly.
f) The Executive Committee shall hold at least one meeting annually. A quorum is two-thirds of the Executive Committee’s membership. Meetings may be in person or by telephone conference call or by a comparable and legally valid communication means. The Executive Director takes part in the meeting, except when the Executive Committee discusses matters related to the performance and/or appointment of the Executive Director.
g) Decisions by the Executive Committee are made by simple majority vote, with the exception of reversions of decisions made by the Executive Director, which requires two-thirds majority and removal of the Executive Director, which requires three-quarters majority. In the case of a tie, the Chair of the Executive Committee shall have the casting vote.
4.4 Executive Director
a) The Executive Director shall be the chief official of Freemuse and has the right to sign in the name of Freemuse any contracts, documents or instruments requiring the signature of the organisation. All contracts, documents and instruments in writing so signed shall be binding upon Freemuse without any further authorisation or formality.
b) The Executive Director shall be responsible for the daily running and activities of the organisation within the framework laid down by the General Assembly and the Executive Committee. In such cases where immediate action is required and there is insufficient time for detailed consultation with the Executive Committee, he/she shall have the authority to make such decisions, which will later be subject to ratification by the Executive Committee.
With the exception of confidential items, the minutes of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee shall be available to paying members of Freemuse.
Auditing of Freemuse will be provided by a chartered accountant in accordance with internationally accepted audit standards.
VII Error of Notification
No error or omission in giving notice of any annual, general or special meeting or any adjourned meeting, whether annual, general or special, of the members of Freemuse shall invalidate such meeting or make void any proceedings. Any member may at any time waive notice of any such meeting and may ratify, approve and confirm any or all proceedings. Members and other concerned parties shall be contacted at their last address recorded in the records of Freemuse.
Every Executive Director and Executive Committee member of Freemuse or other person who is undertaking any liability on behalf of Freemuse according to the rules, this Charter shall be indemnified and saved harmless out of the funds of Freemuse for all costs incurred in any action brought against the individual, or in respect of any action done or permitted by the individual, in the execution of his/her duties, except such expenses as are occasioned by the Executive Director’s or individual’s own neglect or deliberate default.
9.1 Freemuse may be dissolved through decisions by two-thirds majority at two separate meetings of the General Assembly with no less than six months between them.
9.2 Should Freemuse be dissolved, the Executive Committee shall have the sole authority to decide what to do with existing funds and where the documentation, collected materials and archives should be deposited.
Authorities, Responsibilities and Procedures of the Executive Committee, Executive Director, Secretariat, Board of Advisors and Ambassadors other than those specified in the Freemuse Charter
1 Executive Committee
1.1 The Executive Committee shall have the following authorities, responsibilities and procedures:
a) elect a Chair and a Vice-chair of the Executive Committee from its members;
b) formulate policies and supervise the implementation of these policies and other affairs of Freemuse;
c) decide an Annual Activity Plan, a Plan of Action and a Budget, including approval of all remuneration of staff at the Secretariat;
d) appoint and set the terms and salary of the Executive Director;
e) ratify decisions made by the Executive Director;
f) reverse decisions made by the Executive Director with a two-thirds majority vote;
g) in cooperation with the Executive Director, take all decisions regarding the raising of funds to support the core funding and activities of Freemuse;
h) remove the Executive Director with a three-quarter majority vote;
i) appoint and remove members of the Board of Advisors and Ambassadors;
j) establish Freemuse bases in other countries; and
k) suspend a member of the Executive Committee should he/she not fulfil his/her obligations.
1.2 The Chair chairs Executive Committee meetings. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-chair chairs Executive Committee meetings or mandates a member of the committee to do so. The Chair, in consultation with the other members of the Executive Committee and the Executive Director, will be in charge of the Agenda. Neither the chair nor the members may prevent an item from appearing on the Agenda.
1.3 Any three members of the Executive Committee may call a meeting with a minimum notice of two weeks.
1.4 Minutes shall be distributed to all members of the Executive Committee and the Executive Director within fourteen (14) business days after each Executive Committee meeting, except when the Executive Committee specifies otherwise.
1.5 The Chair of the Executive Committee shall, in the absence of the Executive Director, have the power to perform all the duties of the Executive Director.
1.6 Only the Chair and the Executive Director may issue statements on behalf of Freemuse, and delegate this task to other members of the Executive Committee.
1.7 The Executive Committee shall be paid no salary, though it is understood that all reasonable travel and hotel expenses, along with a per diem, will be provided by Freemuse.
1.8 The Executive Committee may amend the content of this Appendix by a three-quarter majority vote.
2 Executive Director
2.1 The Executive Director shall have the following responsibilities:
a) daily implementation of Freemuse’s policies and activities;
b) in co-operation with the Executive Committee, hire staff or consultants;
c) in consultation with the Executive Committee, delegate specific responsibilities to staff at the Secretariat or to members of Freemuse;
d) by formal resolution to delegate his/her right to sign in the name of Freemuse to a designated member of the Executive Committee, or in urgent situations, to the head of administration; and
e) along with the Executive Committee, have responsibility for taking all decisions regarding the raising of funds to support the funding and activities of Freemuse.
2.2 The Executive Director may not vote at the General Assembly.
2.3 The position is salaried.
3.1 The Secretariat shall be the operating bureau of Freemuse and shall be made up of the Executive Director and such professional, administrative and clerical employees of the organisation as may be required from time to time.
3.2 The Secretariat implements the activities as lined out in the Charter and decided by the Executive Committee through the Annual Activity Plan, the Plan of Action or otherwise.
3.3 The working language of the Secretariat shall be English.
4 Board of Advisors and Ambassadors
4.1 The Board of Advisors and Ambassadors shall aid in realising the aims and objectives of Freemuse. It is also expected that the Board and Ambassadors will facilitate the furthering of Freemuse’s relationships with its affiliates and help it reach governmental and non-governmental agencies with influence over the issues with which Freemuse is concerned.
4.2 The members of the Board of Advisors and the Ambassadors shall be selected from the widest possible range of disciplines that represent the issues to be addressed by Freemuse. The aim is that the Board shall represent the broadest possible ethnic, geographical and cultural diversity.
4.3 The members of the Board of Advisors shall not have voting rights in the General Assembly unless they are paying members of Freemuse.
4.4 The Board of Advisors shall not be remunerated.
Articles in United Nations documents referred to in section 2.1 of the Freemuse Charter
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
- Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
a) To take part in cultural life;
b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
c) To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
- Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
- Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Recommendations made in The UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights’ report, ‘The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity’
89. The Special Rapporteur recommends that:
a) Artists and all those engaged in artistic activities should only be subject to general laws that apply to all people. Such laws shall be formulated with sufficient precision and in accordance with international human rights standards. They shall be made easily accessible to the public, and implemented with transparency, consistency and in a non-discriminatory manner. Decisions on restrictions should clearly indicate motives and be subject to appeal before a court of law;
b) States should abolish prior-censorship bodies or systems where they exist and use subsequent imposition of liability only when necessary under article 19 (3) and 20 of ICCPR. Such liability should be imposed exclusively by a court of law. Prior censorship should be a highly exceptional measure, undertaken only to prevent the imminent threat of grave irreparable harm to human life or property. Avenues for the appeal before an independent entity of any decision to exercise prior restraint should be guaranteed;
c) Classification bodies or procedures may be resorted to for the sole purpose of informing parents and regulating unsupervised access by children to particular content, and only in the areas of artistic creation where this is strictly necessary due in particular to easy access by children. States shall ensure that (a) classification bodies are independent; (b) their membership includes representatives of the arts field; (c) their terms of reference, rules of procedure and activities are made public; and (d) effective appeal mechanisms are established. Particular attention should be paid to ensuring that the regulation of access by children does not result in prohibiting or disproportionately restricting access for adults;
d) Decision makers, including judges, when resorting to possible limitations to artistic freedoms, should take into consideration the nature of artistic creativity (as opposed to its value or merit), as well as the right of artists to dissent, to use political, religious and economic symbols as a counter-discourse to dominant powers, and to express their own belief and world vision. The use of the imaginary and fiction must be understood and respected as a crucial element of the freedom indispensable for creative activities;
e) States should abide by their obligation to protect artists and all persons participating in artistic activities or dissemination of artistic expressions and creations from violence by third parties. States should de-escalate tensions when these arise, maintain the rule of law and protect artistic freedoms. The police should not charge artists and cultural institutions for the costs of their protection;
f) States should address issues regarding the use of public space for artistic performances or displays. Regulation of public art may be acceptable where it conflicts with other public uses of the space, but such regulation should not discriminate arbitrarily against specific artists or content. Cultural events deserve the same level of protection as political protests. States, private institutions and donors are encouraged to find creative solutions so as to enable artists to display or perform in public space, through, for example, offering open spaces to artists. Where relevant, in particular for permanent visual artworks, States should facilitate dialogue and understanding with the local communities;
g) States should review their visa issuance system and adjust it to the specific difficulties encountered by touring artists, their host organizations and tour organizers;
h) States should ensure the participation of representatives of independent associations of artists in decision-making related to art, and refrain from nominating or appointing cultural administrators or directors of cultural institutions on the basis of their political, religious or corporate affiliation.
90. The Special Rapporteur recommends that States and other stakeholders assess and address more comprehensively restrictions to artistic freedoms imposed by corporations, as well as the impact on artistic freedoms of aggressive market strategies and situations of monopolies or quasi-monopolies in the area of media and culture. The support provided to cultural industries should be revisited from the perspective of the right to artistic freedom. The Special Rapporteur recommends in particular that States:
a) Enact and/or implement anti-trust legislation and legislation against monopolies in the area of media and culture;
b) Support securing the survival of independent bookstores, music stores and cinemas threatened by megastores, multiplexes and global distributors;
c) Ensure that measures established to support private sponsorship of the arts do not negatively impact on artistic freedoms;
d) Establish a clear national legal framework prohibiting coercive contracts under which creators sign away their rights to their creation;
e) Support the establishment of non-profit collective societies mandated to collect and distribute income from artistic creations and performances, with a majority of artists sitting on their board;
f) Encourage initiatives to support free legal representation for artists or other forms of legal aid;
g) Assess and address comprehensively the impact of current intellectual property rights regimes, especially of copyrights and authors’ rights, on artistic freedoms;
h) Fully support artistic creativity and the establishment of cultural institutions accessible to all. Public agencies should function as a financial backup for programmes that do not attract corporate sponsors, based on the understanding that they cannot interfere with contents. Various systems of State support can be envisaged, including delegating decisions on funding to independent peer-review bodies, which should act in conformity with transparent terms of reference and rules of procedure. These bodies’ decisions should be motivated and subject to appeal;
i) Fully implement the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of the Artist;
j) Develop and enhance arts education in schools and communities, instilling respect for, appreciation and understanding of artistic creativity, including evolving concepts of acceptability, awakening the ability to be artistically creative. Arts education should give students a historical perspective of the constant evolution of mentalities on what is acceptable and what is controversial.
91. The Special Rapporteur recommends that national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations:
a) Document more systematically violations of the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity;
b) Submit their findings to relevant national and international bodies, in particular the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human Rights Committee;
c) Support artists who are threatened through in particular legal support.
Freemuse has been the recipient of several awards and prizes for its work defending musicians and artistic freedom for over 15 years, here's a look at some:
Prix Ars Electronica – Award of Distinction 2014
The jury of the Digital Communities of Prix Ars Electronica 2014 selected Freemuse for its Award of Distinction at the 2014 Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s oldest and most renowned prize in media art. A total of 2,703 entries from 77 countries were submitted for prize consideration to the 2014 Prix Ars Electronica.
“The fact that musicians are being targeted throughout the world, arrested, harassed and repressed, makes it even more relevant to promote a community that empowers them and advocates free speech in the current scenario of increasing surveillance and censorship.” – Prix Ars Electronica, June 2014
Danish Music Award – Special Achievement 2012
“Freemuse receives this evening’s prize for its focus on musicians’ rights to express themselves freely and critically.” – Maria Carelse, World Music Denmark, November 2012
Fairplay Foundation – Liberty for Arts Award 2012
“With this prize we express our deepest gratefulness to Mrs Marie Korpe for her philanthropic dedication to the threatened musicians and composers all over the world.” – Fairplay Foundation, March 2012
“I have had some time to look into the work of Freemuse, and I must say I am very impressed. So much that I have become a supporting member, something which I would encourage you all to consider.” – Swedish ambassador Per Thöresson in his speech when handing the award to Marie Korpe
Fairplay Foundation is an NGO dedicated to cultural diversity, arts and artists all over the world.
SKAP – Special Prize 2011
“Music and culture are essential pillars of society. In many respects, it is also the conscience of society. The right to express your voice and opinion is vital and therefore the work of Freemuse is crucial.” – Alfons Karabuda, SKAP chairman, May 2011
SKAP, the Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers, celebrated its 85th anniversary on Monday 16 May 2011 and in addition to presenting annual grants gave a special prize to Freemuse for its work advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers and fighting music censorship.
Freedom to Create Prize 2009
“Freemuse is waging a vital war in support of musicians on the world’s frontlines who are using their freedom to create, to oppose injustice and oppression. It is through the tremendous dedication of organizations like Freemuse that the sacrifices of artists, such as those made by 2009 Freedom to Create Prize winner Lapiro de Mbanga, are being made public on a global scale.” – Freedom to Create Vice President Bernard Stringer, November 2009
The Freedom to Create Prize celebrates the courage and creativity of artists around the world who use their talents to build the foundations of open societies, promote social justice and inspire human spirit. More than 1,000 artists from more than 100 countries were nominated in 2009.
Zentsura At! Prize 2009
“Freemuse is awarded for its work against censorship, and for their representatives Marie Korpe and Ole Reitov, who with the World Forum on Music and Censorship have fought for the freedom of speech of musicians and authors all over the world. We send our most sincere support and recognition to them.” – José Angel Serrano, Zentsura At! IV Festival Against Censorship
In its fourth edition, the Zentsura At! festival in Spain, in November 2009, launched a new prize to give public recognition to all those who suffer censorship in their everyday struggle, and to the people and organisations who work to eradicate censorship and champion freedom of speech by presenting them with a sculpture made by famous Basque sculptor Eskerri.
International Music Council (IMC) – Inaugural Musical Rights Award 2009
“This unique programme [Freemuse] advocates freedom of expression for creators and performers of music. It documents and often publicises incidents of censorship and oppression, some of which may see musicians gaoled or even killed. It acts in a variety of ways to support musicians who experience limitations in their freedom to express themselves, in some cases by lobbying offending governments directly. It collaborates with other organisations working to implement the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and with researchers and journalists to focus on issues of music censorship. Hence, the programme goes to the roots of the five musical rights defined by IMC.” – IMC Award motivation
In October 2009, IMC awarded Freemuse for its “courageous global programme advocating freedom of musical expression for creators and performers of music”. The award was presented during the 3rd IMC World Forum on Music, which took place in Tunisia. In his speech, IMC president Dr. Richard Letts praised the “unique programme” of Freemuse and said that “defence of the right to freedom of expression in music is the first of the five musical rights at the base of IMC activities.”
Founded in 1949 by UNESCO, IMC is a global network of expert organisations and individuals working in the field of music, mandated to promote musical diversity and support cultural rights for all.
Womex Award 2003
“This year the Womex Award goes not to just one artist, but to all those suffering from censorship, an ill against which the award winner Freemuse has been fighting valiantly for the past few years from their base in Copenhagen.” – Womex Award motivation
Music as a basic human right was in focus at the Wome trade fair – The WOrld Music EXpo – in Sevilla, Spain on 22–26 October 2003.
Webby Award – Best Music Web Site (nominated) – 2002
Read more here
Dr Srirak Plipat | email@example.com
Dr Plipat joined Freemuse as Executive Director in April 2017. Before Freemuse, Dr Plipat was director for Asia Pacific at Transparency International where he managed TI’s strategy, research and advocacy programmes on transparency and accountability governance. As director of the International Mobilisation Programme at Amnesty International in London, Dr Plipat was responsible for AI’s mobilisation strategy, global human rights activist coordination, people engagement, youth activism, and operations and regional projects in over 15 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Dr Plipat advocated for regional human rights protection in Asia, having served as a member of the Working Group for the Establishment of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms. He holds a PhD in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
Rikke Nagell | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rikke Nagell has worked with culture, freedom of expression and global issues for more than 20 years and has a solid background in cultural co-operation. Prior to joining Freemuse in 2005, Rikke worked as project coordinator at The Danish Center for Culture and Development on festivals presenting contemporary art and culture with a global perspective, working with artists and networks from around the world. Rikke holds a Master of Arts degree in Contemporary Culture, a Master degree in African Studies and a Bachelor degree in Theatre and Film from University of Copenhagen.
Magnus Ag | email@example.com
Senior Programme Officer
Magnus Ag joined Freemuse in 2015. Before Freemuse, Magnus worked for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, most recently as the organisation’s Assistant Advocacy Director. He has led and participated in missions to Bangladesh, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey and Zimbabwe; led international advocacy efforts in Brussels, Geneva, New York and Washington, D.C., and has appeared in major U.S. and European media. Magnus has previously worked in government, journalism and political campaigning. He holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in political science from Copenhagen University.
Dwayne Mamo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dwayne Mamo has an extensive background in communications, advocacy, capacity building, project management and emergency work, having worked internationally for over a decade in development and humanitarian contexts in the Caucasus, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Eastern European regions. Before joining Freemuse, Dwayne was CARE International’s Climate Change Communications Coordinator. Dwayne holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and English/Creative Writing from Texas Tech University.
Ziva Larsen | email@example.com
Ziva Larsen has 27 years of experience in accounting and administration. Prior to joining Freemuse in 2017, Ziva owned her own business for nine years and held accountant and administration positions for several small and large businesses, including Danish shipping company Knud I. Larsen, El Al Israel Airlines, travel company Atlantis Rejser, and auto service company HAC AutoMester. Ziva received her bank clerk education in Israel and studied business finance at Hillerød Business School in Denmark.
David Herrera | firstname.lastname@example.org
David Herrera has personally experienced the difficulties that artists endure having been a part of the music scene in the Middle East for several years. He has worked in the legal field and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International and European Law from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. David is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global Politics at Malmö University – he speaks six languages and has conducted many research projects focusing on particularly scarcely documented issues. He is also actively involved in the field of cyber security.
Aicha Nouri | email@example.com
Programme Officer – MENA
Aicha Nouri is a human rights activist and the Secretary General of Ytto Foundation, which provides hosting and rehabilitation to women victims of violence. She is also a board member of the Moroccan Association of Parkour (AMP). Interested in cultural policies, she worked as a project manager at Racines’ association for cultural development in Morocco and Africa, where she conducted a survey on Moroccans’ cultural practices. She holds a masters degree in Cultural and Artistic Engineering, and a bachelor in cultural mediation from Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco.
Ayodele Ganiu | firstname.lastname@example.org
Progamme Officer – Africa
Ayodele Ganiu is a talking drum artist, human rights advocate, cultural policy expert and National Coordinator of CORA/Arterial Network Nigeria, part of a pan-African network aimed at advancing culture across the continent. He has championed and supported petitions to Nigerian and African authorities to drop criminal charges against persecuted artists and has coordinated emergency assistance and legal representation for artists at risk in Nigeria. Ayodele holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Lagos and is a graduate of the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin and the Cultural Leadership Programme.
Paige Collings | email@example.com
Paige Collings has been working with human rights advocacy and public policy development for several years. Prior to joining Freemuse, Paige campaigned to end female genital cutting and violence against women and girls whilst working at Orchid Project in London, and has previously worked extensively at the British Parliament as a Policy Researcher and Communications Assistant. Paige holds a First Class Bachelor of Science degree in Politics and History from Brunel University London, and is currently studying for a Master of Science degree in Political Science at the University of Copenhagen.
Martin Cloonan (UK)
Professor Martin Cloonan is the Director of the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Turku, Finland. He is author of numerous books and articles including ‘Banned! Censorship of Popular Music in Britain: 1967-1992’ (Arena, 1996), ‘Popular Music and the State in the UK’ (Ashgate, 2007) and ‘Players’ Work Time: A History of the British Musicians’ Union, 1893-2013’ (Manchester University Press, 2016, with John Williamson). Martin is co-editor of ‘Policing Pop’ (Temple University Press, 2003) and ‘Popular Music Censorship in Africa’ (Ashgate, 2006), co-ordinating editor of Popular Music and a member of the editorial boards of Popular Music and Society and Perfect Beat. Cloonan also managed the Glasgow band Zoey Van Goey.
Daniel Brown (USA/France)
Daniel Brown has been involved with Freemuse since its inception in 1998. He is a staff reporter at HEC Paris business school and a freelance journalist based in the French capital. He covers music issues regularly for Songlines magazine and the Freemuse website. As a former staff journalist in the English Service of Radio France International (RFI) he covered cross-cultural and hybrid music between 1995 and 2012. He has frequently presented Freemuse activities at festivals around the world. He is currently working on a documentary on musicians in Paris exile.
Frank Geary (Ireland)
Frank Geary is a civil society leader with national and international experience working in freedom of expression, human rights, culture and development education. He is director of IDEA, the Irish Development Education Association, an Irish national platform for the advancement of development education and global justice. As Deputy Director and Interim Director of PEN International, he worked with civil society actors in over 100 countries, initiated PEN’s international civil society programmes, and developed networks focusing on freedom of expression in many regions of the world.
Publications include a chapter on freedom of expression in the CIVICUS 2013 ‘State of Civil Society Report’. He has been a music promoter and DJ, and has worked with contemporary music ensembles.
Krister Malm (Sweden)
Krister Malm is an established musicologist specialising in global music issues. He has documented music and its contexts mainly in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. He is the author of amongst other works: ‘Big Sounds from Small Peoples - The music industry in small countries’ and ‘Music, Media, Multiculture’ and has published documentary films and records. Malm is a founding member of Freemuse, and the former General Director of the Swedish National Collections of Music and former President of International Council for Traditional Music.
Layla Al-Zubaidi (South Africa/Germany)
Layla Al-Zaubaidi is the director of Heinrich Böll Foundation’s (HBF) office in Cape Town, South Africa. She has studied Ethnology, Middle Eastern Studies and Archaeology in Germany and the US, and holds a Masters degree from Freie Universität Berlin. Al-Zubaidi specialises in issues of development, culture and media, and has published the study ‘Walking a Tightrope: News Media and Freedom of Expression in the Arab Middle East’ (2004). In 2005, she coordinated the regional conference ‘Freedom of Expression in Music’ in Beirut organised by Freemuse, in collaboration with HBF.
Samm Farai Monro (Zimbabwe)
Samm Farai Monro is one of Zimbabwe’s pioneering artists, activists and organisers. Better known as Comrade Fatso, he juggles being a poet, comedian, festival director, new media publisher and creative director. He currently runs Magamba Network, a youth organisation formed in 2007 that uses cultural, media and youth activism in the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe. Comrade Fatso is regarded as one of the leading Zimbabwean spoken word artists. Together with his band Chabvondoka, he released their debut album ‘House Of Hunger’ in 2008, which was banned on state-controlled airwaves because of its critique of the government. Comrade Fatso is also in high demand as a stand-up comedian.
Alenka Barber-Kersovan, Musicologist, Germany
Annemette Kirkegaard, Musicologist, Denmark
Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Assistant Professor in Media Studies, USA/Spain
Bashar Shammout, Sound Engineer, Germany/Palestine
Birgitta Tollan, Journalist, Sweden/Denmark
Bram Posthumus, Journalist, Netherlands
Elijah Wald, Musician/Writer, USA
Eric Nuzum, Journalist/Writer, USA
Jens Lohmann, Journalist/Writer, Denmark
Marie Korpe, Journalist/Former Freemuse Executive Director, Denmark
Marcel Khalife, Musician/Composer, Lebanon/France
Maxwell Sibanda, Journalist, Zimbabwe
Michael Drewett, Sociologist, South Africa
Nathalie Boudjerada, Lawyer, France
Ole Reitov, Journalist/Former Freemuse Executive Director, Denmark
Rania Elias, Director, Yabous Productions, Palestine
Tsigue Shiferaw, Journalist, France/Ethiopia
Art is not a crime. That is why Freemuse defends the right to artistic freedom worldwide. We advocate and take action to free musicians and other artists, change repressive laws and fight censorship.
We use our thorough research and documentation of violations of artistic freedom to influence governments and decision-makers to change laws and practices that limit artistic expression. We work with international bodies – including the UN Human Rights Council, special procedures and special rapporteurs, UNESCO and EU institutions – to secure the right to artistic expression, as guaranteed by international human rights conventions, is respected, and to ensure that violations are monitored and violators are held accountable.
We take action on behalf of individual artists and audiences whose rights to artistic freedom have been violated. We campaign for the release of imprisoned artists in collaboration with other artists, local groups and lawyers, and our international network of human rights and cultural organisations standing up for artistic freedom. We also work behind the scenes in cases where public attention jeopardises putting the artist further at risk.
When the situation forces an artist to leave their country, we work with art residencies and so-called safe havens to help secure the artist can continue their artistic work in a safe environment.
In 2011, we created the Freemuse Advocacy and Campaign Guide, which suggests a number of practical actions organisations and individuals can take locally and internationally to support artists at risk, including advice for artists seeking refuge. The guide is available in Arabic, English, French and Pashto.
In a limited amount of cases, Freemuse can provide direct financial assistance to musicians whose needs cannot be addressed by advocacy and other non-financial efforts alone. Cases include musicians who need medical treatment following an attack, face jail time and require legal defense, or must flee the country because of death threats or threat of imprisonment. Freemuse does not to offer financial assistance to other artists.
Want to help us defend artistic freedom? Here are a few things to get started:
- Make sure artists are never silenced. Follow Freemuse on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and help us share threatened artists’ art and stories.
- Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about key developments.
- Become a Freemuse member.
- Donate to Freemuse to secure we can continue our work.
- Care for artistic freedom in a specific country or region? Sign up for our latest country specific alerts here.
Freemuse focuses on artistic freedom issues in music, visual arts, cinema/films (fictional), theatre (including performance art), literature (fiction) and dance. Through our network and team, we document and monitor cases of artistic freedom violations across the world and developments at local, national and international levels on artistic freedom policies and laws, as well as changes to the social and cultural context around artistic freedom.
We source our information from respected and established media groups worldwide and whatever verified information we can collect from trusted sources, including partners, civil society organisations, journalists, researchers and artists, all over the world. We use these various groups and sources of information to verify incidents, laws, and media organisations to ensure, responsible documentation is provided.
Freemuse considers a case confirmed only if we are reasonably certain that an artist was targeted in reprisal for his or her artistic work. We conduct our own independent research based on various sources to determine the motive. When authorities make up false accusations, such as economic fraud or drug possession in an attempt to silence an artist, the case is included in our documentation. Artists killed in a car accident or prosecuted for an actual crime unrelated to their artistic work are not included. When the motive of persecution is unclear, Freemuse considers the case unconfirmed and continues to investigate.
While Freemuse makes the bulk of cases public on its websites, not all cases are documented online for a variety of reasons, including if publicly documenting the case would endanger an artist’s life or the lives of their family members, would compromise an investigation or legal case, or would further cause harm to the artist if they are already being threatened or attacked.
Freemuse does not cover press freedom issues or non-fictional works and thus does not focus on journalists, bloggers, writers and cartoonists who work for news ventures, magazines or blogs, as well as writers who produce non-fiction works or filmmakers who produce documentaries and other non-fiction visual works.
Several of our sister organisations, such as PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists and the umbrella organisation IFEX, document and monitor these groups and issues. Freemuse includes the PEN verified cases of attacks on fictional writers.
Freemuse categorises each piece of news in the world of artistic freedom in a variety of ways to help understand and monitor the state of artistic freedom worldwide. These categories and terms can be seen on our websites listed below the main text of a piece to put it in context across the various defining terms.
We cover artists who have been abducted, attacked, detained, imprisoned, killed, prosecuted, sentenced or threatened. These violations also cover when audiences, venues or events have been attacked.
Violations also take into account what happened to the artwork or venue, including when they’ve been censored (including items being seized, banned, excluded, taken down, or when performances have been cancelled), self-censored, interrupted, destroyed or when an attempt was made to censor an artist, work or venue.
If the reason behind the violation can be determined, then we will use some frequently occurring topics that routinely apply to artistic freedom stories, including if the violation affects women and female gender equality, LGBT issues and minorities. The topics also include legislation issues, including when laws and policies change, visa issues when artists have their mobility restricted, when a market, corporation or business employs censorship, or when art is affected by conflict. Politics is a large topic within artistic freedom and includes when art is used in elections or support of people and parties, as well as when political pressure is exerted by political groups, whether national or international. Religion and its connection to morality is another widespread topic that violates artistic freedom, as is indecency, which is sometimes connected to religion, but is also connected to cultural norms, obscenity and sexuality issues. The spread of the internet and its rise in use is also becoming a topic in the artistic freedom world, including threatening artists online, denying access to internet or pulling content from platforms.
We also track who is violating artistic freedom, including when any government body perpetrates the violation (including police, military, officials, ministries, censorship boards, public schools and political parties), when non-state groups are responsible (including gangs, rebel groups, civil society organisations, churches or religious groups), and when the artistic community, via curators, unions or syndicates, are responsible for such acts. When the violator is unknown, we make that distinction as well.
Some musical genres that have historically been targeted, or are becoming increasingly targeted are also noted, including heavy metal, rap, hate music, narcocorridos in Mexico and mahraganat in Egypt.
We also categorise our posts by country, as recognised by the United Nations (UN). Sometimes a post will concern an issue that has worldwide ramifications, in such cases we label it as global, and in other instances, when a post is about UN or European Union (EU) issues or reports, we will label them as such. When a case occurs in a geographical area that is not recognised as a country or sovereign state by the UN, that area is categorised as a topic, such as Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine, Somaliland, Taiwan or Tibet.
The artist(s) affected is also categorised in our cases, and in rare instances, if an official censor speaks out in a long-form piece or interview, we will categorise by that particular censor. We also use some Freemuse-related categories around our events and activities, such as Music Freedom Day and the Freemuse Award.
Freemuse receives requests from media from all over the world. This includes requests for interviews, statements, documentation and background information.
We cannot connect media to artists at risk unless the artists have specifically mandated us to do so.
You are free to share, quote or republish a single story as long as you attribute Freemuse and the author clearly as the original source. Please note: in the case of articles, images and multimedia we have sourced from others you need permission to republish from the original creators. In case of other sharing requests please contact the media contact below.
Office: +45 3332 1027
Mobile: +45 4038 8374
For any other logo or Freemuse resource needs please contact our web editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Freemuse is always looking for reliable, talented and established freelancers to help with its monitoring of artistic freedom news, including violations, latest news or developments in the sector.
For more information or to submit your CV, along with links to your published work in the field, please email us at email@example.com.
Only strong candidates will receive replies.
Telephone: (+45) 3332 1027
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