ACAR made a successfull presentation about tools and partners for artists rights, presenting the recent Freemuse Report on artistic freedom violations “Art under Threat” and the Artists Rights Justice Toolkit. The congress decided unanimously a resolution to support the initiative of Ole Reitov at the 2017 World Press Freedom Day to call the UNESCO, UN and parties to create an UN Plan of Action for the safety of artists and the safe promotion of art, according to the reaction scheme for journalists. The second resolution which ACAR brought to the congress was also fully adapted. It expresses the support of ITI with the Israeli theatre and performance artists in their protest against the exclusion of PRISONERS OF THE OCCUPATION from this year’s Acco Festival (see letter to ACAR for detailed information). For congress participants ITI Germany and ACAR organized also a seminar on the role of Civil Society Organisations for the implementation of the UNESCO convention on Cultural Diversity. “The Declining of Diversity” was conducted by Cornelia Dümcke, ITI’s representative at UNESCO Cultural Diversity IG Committee.
Thomas Irmer (Germany), journalist and theatre expert, will be the new coordinator for ACAR. Ann Mari Engel (ITI Sweden) remains as spokesperson. Thomas Engel (managing director of ITI Germany), ACAR coordinator from 2011-17, remains in ACAR for backup from the German ITI centre.
Resolution 1 (en, fr), Resolution 2 (en, fr), Presentation sheets Tools and Partners for Artists Rights
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 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.
The Wuhou District People’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
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
Invited by UNESCO for a keynote speech at the World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta (1-4 May), the outgoing Freemuse co-founder and Executive Director Ole Reitov pointed out that while UNESCO drafted the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, no such plan exists for artists, who work, create and communicate in very different ways.
“Journalists are articulate, well organized and their work for the protection of journalists has led to a number of international declarations and support programmes. This is not the case with artists,” Reitov explained. “Artists express themselves differently and in many countries they are poorly organized. There should be no distinction between the condemnation of attacks on journalists and artists.”
Thus, Freemuse calls for the current and forthcoming Director General of UNESCO to strongly condemn censorship, imprisonment and attacks on artists, and to draft a UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Artists and the Issue of Impunity.
Further Freemuse also calls on UNESCO to revamp its mechanism for filing human rights complaints needs to be strengthened, made more accessible and easy to use.