Hungarian NGO law

On 13th June 2017, the Hungarian parliament adopted the law on the Transparency of Organisations Supported from Abroad. The EU commission now examines the violation of EU laws. The Hungarian NGO law could be a means of obstruction and control in the field of theater when independent troupes with international cooperations would be identified as receiving funds from foreign organisations. Similar cases have been observed in Russia, where EU laws are not to be applied but the effect of control is largely the same in the end.

ACAR at 35th ITI World Congress in Segovia/Spain

ACAR will meet during the 35th ITI World Congress in Segovia to set up its schedule for the next two years. The committee meeting will take place on Wednesday, 19 July, 9:00 at the first “Committee Reunions” section.
We are offering two workshops during the congress:
• Wednesday, 19 July, 17:15-19:00 “Tools and partners for Artists Rights”
Introducing the new Artists Rights Toolkit from our partner organization Artist Rights Justice as well as tactics and networks for artists rights worldwide. Introduced and presented by Ann Mari Engel (Sweden) and Thomas Engel (Germany).
And, together with ITI Germany:
• Thursday, 20 July, 15:15 – 17:00 “Cultural Diversity under Threat?” (see mailout)
Introduced and moderated by Cornelia Dümcke, ITI representative at the UNESCO Cultural Diversity IG Committee.

Chinese Performance Artist Chen Yunfei for 4 years in prison

The Wuhou District PChen Yunfeieople’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, convicted Chen Yunfei, 49, for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and sentenced him to four years in prison, reported Human Rights Watch on 31 March 2017. The conviction of Chen Yunfei related to tweets critical of the Chinese government and his various performance art projects, including one in which Chen Yunfei called the police to report an “illegal gathering,” which turned out to be a government conference. Police had detained Chen Yunfei in March 2015, after he organized a memorial service for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Chen has suffered a near 2 year long pre-trial detention and he was tortured twice for violating the rules of the detention center. One of the original charges against Chen – “inciting subversion of state power” – was dropped from the indictment in March 2016.
Voice Project has an online petition.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Artsfreedom

Gogol Centre in Moscow still under attack

While artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov is out of the line of fire, the former managing director of Gogol Center and former general producer of Gogol Centre’s The Seventh Studio, Aleksei Malobrodsky, was arrested on June 21. Also in jail while being investigated and tried is former bookkeeper Nina Maslyaeva. Former general director of the Seventh Studio, Yury Itin, is under house arrest while being investigated and tried.
Malobrodsky is charged with embezzling 2.3 million rubles (about $38,700) allocated for organization of the “Platforma” festival and the production “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Theater journals contain articles and reviews evidencing that the play was performed at “Platforma 2015” festival and has been in repertory at Gogol Center since 2012, playing in Paris at the Théâtre National de Chaillot and at the Baltic House festival. Teatral online calls the theatre commuity to resist against the absurd accusations (John Freedman has an English translation).

According to investigators, unidentified persons from management of the Seventh Studio, a stage company created by Serebrennikov on the basis of his acting and directing course in the Moscow Art Theatre School, embezzled 200 million rubles (about $3.5 million) allocated by the government for development and popularization of art in Russia from 2011 to 2014.

Source: Russian Legal Information Agency

Germany receives letter from UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

On 1st June, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, has sent a letter to the German Government concerning a drafted social media bill (Netzdurchführungsgesetz). The bill is introduced as a measure to protect network users against hate speech and misinformation. The bill was approved by the Cabinet and is expected to be voted on in Parliament before the national elections in September 2017. Kaye sets up seven serious concerns an concludes: “The liability placed upon private companies to remove third party content absent a judicial oversight is not compatible with international human rights law.” Censorship measures should not be delegated to private entities ((A/HRC/17/31). Germany has 60 days to respond. The letter has been published at the website of the Special Rapporteur.

The German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat), Wikimedia Germany, Reporters sans frontières and other organizations in Germany have signed a “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” (“Deklaration für die Meinungsfreiheit“) as immediate reaction on the social media bill draft.

Police raid at Gogol Centre in Moscow

Police investigators raided the Gogol Centre in Moscow and took its renowned artistic director Kirill S. Serebrennikov in for questioning as part of a corruption investigation. Raids at the Gogol Center and Mr. Serebrennikov’s apartment took place on Tuesday 23rd of May, and he was released late that night after hours of questioning. For now, Serebrennikov is a witness and not longer a suspect in the case, which formally does not concern the Gogol Center. Many artists and theater and film directors feared the raids might signal a crackdown on artistic freedom and voiced their support of Serebrennikov in letters to President Putin.

Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Die Welt