The Freemuse Award 2014 was given to The City of Harstad, Norway, which last year declared itself as the world’s first ‘Safe city for musicians’. Harstad is a city of 23,000 citizens, situated 300 kilometres north of the polar circle.
Marianne Bremnes, Mayor of Harstad, says:
“The city of Harstad is grateful and thankful for the Freemuse Award 2014. We have made a great effort to become the first city for persecuted musicians in the world. This is a decision which is totally accepted in the whole political environment in Harstad. We have a lot of professional musicians in our city, and that is one of the reasons it was natural for us to aim for the title as ‘the world’s first safe city for persecuted musicians’. Winning this award shows that hard work pays off. It has been a long journey.”
The Freemuse Award is given to an individual or organisation that “has worked for freedom of musical expression in a remarkable way”. It is the first time it is awarded to a city. Previous winners include Ramy Essam, the ‘singer of the revolution’ in Egypt, the late American singer and activist Pete Seeger and Festival au Désert in Mali.
Says Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov:
“Harstad has inspired many other cities, and no doubt this has led several other cities to offer safe residencies to musicians and other artists at risk. Our sister organisation SafeMUSE in Norway has played a very strong role in this process.”
The Freemuse Award was presented to Harstad during Music Freedom Day on 3 March 2015.