About Us

Freemuse ( is an independent international non-governmental organisation advocating for freedom of artistic expression and cultural diversity. Freemuse has United Nations Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC) and Consultative Status with UNESCO.

Freemuse operates within an international human rights and legal framework which upholds the principles of accountability, participation, equality, non-discrimination and cultural diversity. We document violations of artistic freedom and leverage evidence-based advocacy at international, regional and national levels for better protection of all people, including those at risk. We promote safe and enabling environments for artistic creativity and recognise the value that art and culture bring to society. Working with artists, art and cultural organisations, activists and partners in the global south and north, we campaign for and support individual artists with a focus on artists targeted for their gender, race or sexual orientation. We initiate, grow and support locally owned networks of artists and cultural workers so their voices can be heard and their capacity to monitor and defend artistic freedom is strengthened.

Freemuse is known for its annual flagship report, The State of Artistic Freedom, widely referenced by governments, UN officials, academia and key actors in the fields of culture and art. In 2019, Freemuse initiated the Global Action Network (GAN) for Artistic Freedom, connecting artists, cultural workers, cultural institutions, art organisations and individual artistic freedom defenders so they can collectively and effectively respond to the shrinking space for culture and art.

Our Vision 

The vision of Freemuse is a world in which everyone is able to express themselves, including as artists, and is able to freely create, perform, record, distribute, facilitate and enjoy art at all times without any impediments or fear of discrimination or persecution.

Our Mission  

Freemuse aims to improve legal and policy framework and practices of artistic freedom and cultural expression of state and non-state actors, by engaging with artists, activists, and others in using human rights-based research, advocacy and campaign to influence key policy and decision-makers.

Our values  

Below, the core beliefs of Freemuse, that inspire and guide staff, executive committee and volunteers.

  • Respect: We treat each other with respect as a fundamental, foundational value.
  • Diversity: We value different backgrounds, views, opinions, identities, and experiences of each person and strive toward greater understanding between all people. By working with artists and important stakeholders around the globe, Freemuse respects and appreciates all forms of diversity.
  • Honesty and transparency: In working with our stakeholders, Freemuse commits to engaging in all communication and relationship in an open, honest, responsible, transparent, and intersectional manner.
  • Professionalism and integrity: In carrying out our work, we strive to deliver high-quality products based on facts, sound research and analysis in an accountable and non-partisan fashion.
  • Equality and understanding: In Freemuse, we are equal, no matter our age, gender, religion, role, or other identities – we treat each other with equal respect and understanding.
  • Knowledge is at the heart of what we do: our activities are objective, honest, and accountable, based on solid data.
  • Creativity and self-expression: Artistic expression is a means of conveying oneself to the world— sharing opinions, emotions, expressions of thought—and this is a vital and integral part of our humanity. We defend freedom of artistic expression because artistic expression is central to the human experience and a human right.
  • Courage: We are courageous in our mission to drive change to protect artists and artistry, even when this means opposing accepted political and social narratives and procedures.

Together we promote and preserve a work culture based on self-expression and creativity, solidarity, trust and empathy acknowledging and respecting diversity.

Following the 1st World Conference on Music and Censorship held in Copenhagen, Freemuse was set up in 1998 by a group of founding members, including Marie Korpe, Ole Reitov, Krister Malm, Klaus Slavensky and Gerald Seligman.

In the beginning, Freemuse focused on music and censorship, but broadened its scope in 2011 to focus on the freedom of artistic expression and creativity across all art forms. That same year, the organisation initiated 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.

II Objectives
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.

III Memberhsip
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 [3] months before the date of the meeting. An agenda, including proposed motions, shall be sent to the paying members no less than four [4] weeks before the General Assembly meeting.
d) At least eight [8] of the paying members in good standing shall constitute a quorum at a General Assembly meeting. At least three [3] 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 [10] 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 [8] 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 [8] 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 [3] months before a General Assembly to be included in the postal or electronic ballot, which shall take place in the two [2] 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 [5] 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 [2] 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.

V Minutes
With the exception of confidential items, the minutes of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee shall be available to paying members of Freemuse.

VI Audit
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.

VIII Indemnification
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.

IX Dissolution
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.

Appendix I
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 Secretariat
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
Article 19

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.

Article 27

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
Article 15

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)
Article 19

  1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Article 20

  1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
  2. 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

Read more here

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

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

Webby Award – Best Music Web Site (nominated) – 2002
Read more here

Our Supporters

Freemuse acknowledges the financial support it receives from its partners:

• Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Read more here

• Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

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• Swedish Postcode Foundation

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• Roskilde Foundation

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• Fritt Ord Norway

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Sanni Kahilainen
Sanni Kahilainen is Head of Communications of the Finnish Musicians’ Union and president of the Finnish Music Council. Having a background in ethnomusicology, sociology and gender studies, Sanni is passionate about music, freedom of expression and equality and inclusivity on the music field. Sanni’s work, experience and focus are music rights, and advocating for the artists’ and music performers’ rights and equality. Sanni has also been campaigning for the release of a group of artists/political prisoners in Egypt since 2018. Sanni was awarded as Future Visionary at the Finnish Music & Media Industry Awards 2021.

Eric Nuzum
Eric has served on several non-profit boards and has been a manager at several media companies in the United States (both for-profit and non-profit). He is best known in the artistic rights world as the author of Parent Advisory, A Comprehensive History of Music Censorship in the United States and the Freemuse report SINGING IN THE ECHO CHAMBER. Eric has written and spoken extensively on music censorship issues over the past two decades.​​​​​​​

Marc Schade-Poulsen
Marc holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and is visiting researcher at Roskilde University writing the history of Tunisian Human Rights Activism (1960-2011) and works as a private consultant. Marc is the co-founder and board member of the Euro Mediterranean Foundation for Support of Human Rights Defenders and the author of Men and Popular Music in Algeria: in the Social Significance of Raï. Marc is also a co-editor of books and written articles on human rights, migration, EU policies, popular culture and Islam.​​​​​​​

Marie Korpe
Marie Korpe has a vast experience in organisational management and fund-raising in the field of culture and freedom of expression. Marie has twenty years of experience as a radio journalist with a focus on international affairs, development aid and culture. She has published and edited several articles, reports and books on censorship as well as served as a peer reviewer on the Oxford Handbook of Music Censorship. She is presently chair of Future of Female Sounds, a CSO and global community of woman DJs and creators.


Gerd Elmark

On 1 September, the Freemuse Executive Committee was pleased to welcome Gerd Elmark to the post of Freemuse Interim Executive Director.   “With a solid background of 20 years in international development assistance, human rights and the arts, Gerd Elmark was appointed after an open, transparent, competitive and rigorous recruitment process,” said Gnanam Devadass, Freemuse Chairman.   Gerd Elmark is based in Denmark and is joining the Secretariat in Copenhagen, and will oversee colleagues in eight countries around the world to ensure proximity to partners and realities for artists on the ground. “Freemuse’s concise and vitally important mandate of protecting artistic freedom and artistic freedom defenders is close to my heart and right at the centre of the human rights and development work that I have been engaged in throughout my professional life. Being able to make a difference for artists at risk around the world with Freemuse’s engaged, widely international and skilled staff is a privilege,” said Elmark.   With a background from the United Nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NHRI, academia and NGOs, Gerd is looking forward to engaging with the wide portfolio of Freemuse’s partners and donors and work on expanding the organisational capacity to respond to the growing need of artists experiencing persecution by governments attempting to silence dissent.  


Anna Cesari |
Programme Development Manager
Anna Cesari worked for five years as an evaluator and organisational development consultant at ODS. Responsible for leading projects to develop organisational, operational, and networking structures and capacity for NGOs and INGOs, Anna has also led and participated in the evaluation and strategic review projects to better position organisations with their programming and operationalisation. She advised organisations working on anti-corruption, human rights and social inclusion. Previously, she worked at the International Debate Education Association, responsible for coordinating network activities across Tunisia, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, the UK and the US, and serving as the internal Project Manager for the Brussels office. Anna holds two Master’s degrees: one in Languages for Communications in Businesses and International Organisation from the University of Modena, and another in International Politics from the University of Bologna.

Campaigns and Advocacy

Paige Collings |
Global Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator
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, and has previously worked with policy development in the British Parliament. Paige holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen and a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and History from Brunel University London.

Sanchit Saluja |
Campaigns Assistant
Sanchit Saluja is working as a Campaigns Assistant at Freemuse. He has prior practical experience in the domain of museum management, cultural policy as well as human rights. He is pursuing his Masters in Cultural Policy at L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in Arts and Law from National Law University, Delhi.


Kaja Ciosek |
Communications Officer
Kaja Ciosek has international experience in media and communication management. Before joining Freemuse, Kaja worked with various organisations and journals in England and Sweden as a communication assistant. Her work has always been connected to human development, environment and human rights. Kaja holds a Master’s degree in Information Science and Cultural Communication from the University of Copenhagen and a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies from Malmö University.


Jasmina Lazović |
Programme Coordinator - Global Monitoring
Jasmina Lazović is a human rights activist and has extensive experience in monitoring the implementation, as well as advocating for the improvement, of laws on human and minority rights throughout the region of former Yugoslavia. For over 10 years, she worked at the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. Jasmina is also frequently involved in organising festivals that use arts and culture to raise awareness. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

Tess Saunders |
Programme Officer
Tess Saunders joined Freemuse in January 2020 and is working as Programme Officer. Tess holds a Master’s graduate in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and English Literature from the University of Reading, England. Her expertise lies in the field of human rights law and political theory, particularly in the areas of development, displacement, and civil and political rights.

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

For media inquiries please contact:
Emily D'Alterio, Freemuse Communications Manager
Office: (+45) 3332 1027

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.

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

Only strong candidates will receive replies.

Telephone: (+45) 3332 1027

Postal address:
Jagtvej 223, 3rd floor
2100 København Ø

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:

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.

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