In March 2023, at the Salzburg Global Seminar session “On the Front Lines: Artists at Risk, Artists who Risk”, a global assembly of fifty artists, activists, and representatives from supporting organizations spanning forty countries united to create the Salzburg Statement on Supporting Artists on the Front Line. The session explored the intersection of contemporary art, activism, politics, law, research, technology, ethics and organizing. The final statement urges institutions shaping social and cultural policies to create an enabling, human rights-based environment that supports artists at risk.
By the end of 2025, policymakers, funders, and international organizations are called upon to:
- Conduct a comprehensive study of factors inhibiting creative workers’ artistic freedom and cultural rights.
- Produce a detailed report on best practices for identifying, evaluating, and addressing the needs of creative workers at risk.
- Establish legal frameworks for Emergency Artistic Freedom visas, ensuring entry and work authorizations for creative workers at risk.
- Allocate resources to support the relocation and professional development of at-risk creative workers.
- Integrate artistic and cultural rights into international policy work, prioritizing them in state and human rights NGO agendas.
- Recognize artists as essential partners in addressing sustainable development, democracy, and innovation, prioritizing their collective expression and activities in the human rights field.
Sources: Meeting report (PDF), The Salzburg Statement (PDF)
Director and actress Soheila Golestani was imprisoned and banned from working in Iran for her public performance on the web about her refusal to wear a head covering in public (November 2022).
One year later, she was invited to the festival “Three Days to Liberation” by the Volksbühne Berlin for a preview screening of scenes from her film “There Were Three of Us” and her VR installation about flight and migration “If You Go Away”. Her visa application was rejected by the German embassy in Tehran and only approved two days after the end of the festival following an intervention by the German Foreign Office.
Sources: Volksbühne Berlin, Instagram, VOA
Another court hearing took place on 2 November. The public prosecutor’s office again applied for an extension of the pre-trial detention without presenting any evidence that the theatre makers were guilty. The court granted the public prosecutor’s request and extended the period of pre-trial detention until 10 January 2024.
In solidarity with those arrested, Berlin-based Russian-language theatre director Oleg Hristolübskiy staged a staged reading of “Finist, heller Falke” with Berlin actresses Katharina Spiering, Suse Wächter and Elisabeth Heckel, which was shown in Berlin on 28 November and 7 December, followed by discussions.
See also ACAR post 1 and 2
Sources: Finist heller Falke, Deutsche Welle (TV Report in Russian)
On Wednesday, 13 December, the Freedom Theatre Jenin was once again raided by Israeli security forces. Artistic director Ahmed Tobasi, producer and general manager Mustafa Sheta, and Jamal Abu Joas, who recently graduated from the Freedom Theatre Performing Arts School, were detained. Ahmed Tobasi was released the next day, Sheta remains in detention.
In January, Yahya Zubeidi, the brother of the Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi, was arrested with no news on his release since.
According statements of the Freedom Theatre Jenin in the last few weeks three members of their company have been killed: Yamen Jarar, a 16-year-old Freedom Theatre participant, by drone fire on Nov. 3, theatre member Jehad Naghniyeh Torokman, 25, by an Israeli military officer, also on Nov. 3, and Mohammed Matahen, an usher and front-of-house staffer, killed on Nov. 9.
PEN international calls for Ahmed Tobasi and Mustafa Sheta to be immediately and unconditionally releases and for an end to the targeting of writers and artists in Palestine.
Sources: PEN international, American Theatre
Due to the outbreak of war following the HAMAS terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October and the ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli cities, the annual Isra Drama festival showcase was held online on 8 and 9 December. Recordings of the performances and panel discussions on the current situation and perspectives of the theatre community in Israel can be viewed on the Isra Drama website.
On 14 December, a Moscow court sentenced Russian playwright and director Ivan Vyrypaev in absentia to eight years in a penal colony. The prosecution had asked for a ten-year sentence. In May, Vyrypaev was put on the wanted list and arrested in absentia. It emerged in court that the case had been opened in October last year.
The playwright was found guilty in the case of disseminating “fakes” about the Russian military motivated by political hatred (Article 207.3, Part 2, Paragraph “d” of the Criminal Code). The court referred to Vyrypaevs public statements and interviews including an open letter to the Russian theatres from March last year where he has informed all Russian state theatres in which his plays have been performed that the money he receives from them will be donated to Ukrainian funds to support refugees.
Sources: Mediazona, Vypyarev.com