Freemuse first annual State of Artistic Freedom report

8 March 2018

In a first-of-its-kind report assessing the global state of artistic freedom, Freemuse warns of the emergence of a new global culture of silencing others, where artistic expression is being shut down in every corner of the globe, including in the traditionally democratic West.
In 2017, 48 artists were serving combined sentences of more than 188 years in prison. Spain imprisoned 13 rappers – more musicians than any other country. On average, one artist per week in 2017 was prosecuted for expressing themselves. Egypt, Russia and Israel accounted for one-third of violations against LGBT artists and audiences. Seventy per cent of violations against women artists and audiences were on the grounds of indecency, a rationale used in 15 countries across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. And artists from minority groups suffered violations of their artistic freedom in a near 50/50 split between countries in the global North and South.
“The nationalist politics in the US and Europe has created a new legitimacy to dismiss perspectives and artistic expression of ‘others’. Together with traditional repressive regimes, the new global culture of silencing others has taken freedom of artistic expression to a new low,” Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said. “Our research and analysis show that those in power anywhere share a will to silence those with whom they disagree, dislike, fear or simply see as different.”
Freemuse will launch its report at 9:00 CET on Thursday 15 March 2018 online and at an event in Stockholm, Sweden, in partnership with PEN Sweden.
“The consequences of these violations against art and artists are incalculable. Artists challenge authorities by their creativity and by their power to convey sharp observations and ideas that many people share. When authorities silence artists, it affects a wide group of readers, listeners and audiences,” Anna Livion Ingvarsson, Secretary General of Swedish PEN, said.
The State of Artistic Freedom 2018 report documents and examines 553 cases of artistic freedom violations in 78 countries, exploring the rationales and mechanisms in place that allow for these violations to take place.
Through this comprehensive analysis we have identified 18 countries, including China, Cuba, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the US,  that have exhibited alarming developments in how they treat artists and their freedom of artistic expression, and are ones to keep a watch on throughout 2018.

This report is part of Freemuse’s research and advocacy initiative to promote and defend freedom of artistic expression. Freemuse is supported by Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency-Sida, the cultural section of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Fritt Ord Norway.
The report will be available online at 9:00 CET, 15 March 2018 at:
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Dwayne Mamo | Campaigns & Communications Manager
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