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Freemuse Launches New Rapid Response Network to Support African Creatives

29 April 2020

 

Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network will support artists and creative professionals who face threats to artistic expression

 

29 April 2020

Copenhagen, Denmark – Today, in collaboration with nine partner organisations working in or on Africa, Freemuse co-launches Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network. The initiative aims to help defend artistic freedom of expression in the region and ensure that creatives at risk can live and work without fear of reprisal. Through enhanced collaboration between member organisations, the network will provide rapid responses to creatives at risk in Africa, coordinate adequate support when artists and cultural professionals on the continent face danger because of their work, and support regional safe havens.

“Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network is a vital project that will ensure that creatives under threat in Africa receive assistance, but will also work to prevent those threats in the future,” said Valsero, a Cameroonian rapper who spent almost nine months in detention under false charges in 2019. “As the director of an organisation that supports artists in Africa, I know we can turn to the network whenever we need further assistance or have gaps in the services we can provide. It gives me hope that no artist will go without help. Now is the time for organisations in Africa to work collaboratively and build solidarity across borders in order to provide a safety net for artists of all disciplines. The network is a vital step toward that cross-country unity in the protection of creative freedom in Africa.”

Though many organisations operate nationally, regionally, and internationally with mandates focused on artistic freedom and protecting creatives at risk in Africa, a lack of clear communication among those organisations often causes assistance work to be duplicated and precludes artists from receiving adequate support in time.

The network brings together organisations from across Africa and the globe, helping to streamline communication, share expertise and insights, pool resources, monitor threats to artistic freedom and creative professionals, and coordinate more effective responses when assisting creatives at risk. This will be achieved through the creation of a streamlined communication mechanism that will allow like-minded member organisations to work in concert and more easily coordinate joint efforts when assisting artists at risk.

The current organisational members of the Amani* network are:

“Freemuse is very proud and happy to be part of the Amani network,” said Sverre Pedersen, Campaign and Advocacy manager at Freemuse. “We are witnesses how authoritarian and undemocratic regimes are using the Covid-19 pandemic to shrink the room for artistic freedom and the need for the Amani network is high at this very moment. The network will make the partner able to increase our effort to support artists at risk and together we will stand stronger in our work to ensure artistic freedom.”

“Amani comes at a crucial moment for artistic freedom around the globe and in Africa,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection, a project of PEN America. “As authoritarian regimes in Africa crackdown on dissent, artists and creatives are bearing the brunt of the pressure, finding themselves at risk of threats, harassment, arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even death because of their creative work. Through the network, creatives at risk and the organisations that support them will not be alone. By contacting the network, artists and creative professionals can connect not with one but with numerous organisations across the continent and globe who can work together to more effectively ensure they get the support they need.”

Creative professionals at risk can fill out a secure form here, which is available in English and French. They can also contact the network via email at arc@pen.org. They will be asked to provide information about your circumstances, which will be treated in confidence and shared only through end-to-end encrypted platforms. ARC will then facilitate the activation of the network in order to provide the best response based on your needs.

* “Amani” means “peace” in Kiswahili, “strength” in Lhukonzo, and “hope” in Arabic.

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