On 25 February 2021 Freemuse launched its flagship report on THE STATE OF ARTISTIC FREEDOM 2021 during the online session of the Re:Writing the Future Festival in Berlin.


The State of Artistic Freedom 2021 is launched annually and marks the key moment of the Freemuse calendar. This year’s report documents an analysis of 978 acts of violations of artistic freedom in 2020 in 89 countries and online spaces. 17 artists were killed, 82 were imprisoned and 133 detained. Oppressing artists’ voices has not stopped with the restrictions on cultural events imposed worldwide following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, to some extent, it intensified.


“It is unimaginable that the record high of prosecution and imprisonment of artists will happen to be in the year when artists and the culture sector have already suffered the loss of their livelihood,” said Dr Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director. “This year’s report illustrates increasing misuses of blasphemy, anti-terrorism legislation, and COVID-19 measures as pretexts, to silence dissident voices of artists and artworks .” 



In 2020, 26% of all documented restrictions of artistic freedom took place in Europe, followed by 22% in North and South America, 19% in the Middle East and North Africa, 15% in Asia and  Pacific,  9% in Africa and 9% Online.  


74% of all documented imprisonments of artists concerned criticising government policies and  practices, with 44% of all imprisonments happening in the Middle East and North Africa. Politics was the main rationale of 71% of detentions of artists.  


Re:Writing the Future Festival is a four-day event organised by Allianz Kultrurstiftung in partnership with ICORN – International Cities of Refuge Network in cooperation with DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. It is funded by the Senate for Culture and Europe of the City of Berlin.