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 State of Artistic Freedom 2018 report documents and examines 553 cases of artistic freedom violations in 78 countries in the 2017 calendar year, combined with an analysis of legal, political and social developments that shed light on the motivations and rationales behind the violations.
Through this comprehensive analysis we have identified 10 countries 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. These countries are: China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Venezuela and the US.
The report takes a further in-depth analysis of seven other countries, reviewing their laws, policies and practices that continue to sustain their troubling record of silencing freedom of artistic expressions, and take a closer look at emblematic cases that expose these continuing violations. These seven countries are: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey.