Freemuse’s new report The State of Artistic Freedom 2019: Whose Narratives Count? is an in-depth analysis of 673 cases of violations of artistic freedom that occurred in different cultural spheres in 80 countries throughout 2018. It identifies key challenges for artists’ freedom of expression and points out violation patterns and trends. Additionally, the report calls for accountability for these violations.
The report illuminates counter-terrorism legislation as a troubling and growing method of violating freedom of artistic expression. In 2018, 19 artist were imprisoned and 10 were detained under the guise of counter-terrorism. Freemuse’s research concludes that nine countries (Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the United States) are found to have used anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation and measures against artists in 2018.
“The State of Artistic Freedom 2019 documents a pervasive human rights scandal involving counter-terrorism laws being used to silence artists who criticise governments or question societal mainstream values.” said Srirak Plipat, Executive Director of Freemuse. “Freedom of artistic expression has been systematically restricted on illegitimate grounds both in the global north and south at alarming levels—with women, LGBTI and minorities artists often targeted by governments and non-state actors including social media companies.”
Speakers and panellists at the report launch event at The Fritt Ord Foundation in Oslo, Norway include: State Secretary Marianne Hagen, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; John Peder Egenæs, Director, Amnesty International Norway; Knut Olav Åmås, Executive Director of The Fritt Ord Foundation; Katya García-Antón, Director and Chief Curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway; Helge Lunde, Executive Director, ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network); Maria Arnqvist, Programme Specialist, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); Pia Maria Roll, Director and Artist, Ways of Seeing; Hanan Benammar, Visual Artist, Ways of Seeing. The panel was moderated by Ingerid Salvesen.
In The State of Artistic Freedom 2019, Freemuse offers strategic recommendations that highlight the need to sufficiently address illegitimate legislation and policy measures that are inconsistent with international human rights standards in the first place. Being aware that the protection of artistic freedom requires mutual efforts of different stakeholders, Freemuse calls on the UN and other global and regional bodies, national governments as well as non-governmental organisations and artistic communities to contribute in this regard.