Albanian authorities decided to demolish the National Theatre, one of the most prominent cultural centres in Tirana and an important social and public space in the city. Artists and citizens from the Alliance for the National Theatre have been protesting against its demolition for over a year and have created a human barricade in and around the building. As part of a police raid today, for the first time ,violence against the protesters was used. Read and share their manifesto and sign the petition at change.org.
Already in June 2018, the cultural heritage network Europa Nostra expressed its sincere concerns regarding the decision to demolish with the National Theatre a heritage site of great cultural and architectural importance in Europe.
See also the report from December 2018 about the the Alliance for the National Theatre in Tirana at nachtkritik (German)
Freemuse has just published the eport “Privatising Censorship, Digitising Violence: Shrinking Space of Women’s Rights to Create in the Digital Age” wich outlines how women artists interact with the online space and draws attention to the worrying nature and frequency of threats they are directed.
In the study “Temporary Shelter and Relocation Initiatives: Perspectives of Managers and Participants” commissioned by the Martin Roth Initiative (Germany), international shelter programmes are analysed from different perspectives, various models for relocation are presented, impacts and challenges are examined. The research is based on qualitative interviews and focuses on security, health, visa procurement, return opportunities, networks and financing.
The full study as well as an executive summary can be downloaded at the MRI website.
On 19 May 2019, artists*, members of the cultural landscape and cultural institutions called for the demo “UNITE & SHINE” in Berlin and several other cities in Germany. More than 5.000 people marched for artistic freedom, an open and democratic society, solidarity, diversity and tolerance. The artists demo, organized by the network DIE VIELEN (The Many) joined with the European wide march ONE EUROPE FOR ALL.
“Nous ne sommes pas doupes!” – in France, 1.400 artists and creative workers signed a solidarity address to the Yellow Vests movement: “What they ask for, they ask for it for all. Yellow vests are us.”
Since the end of November 2017, a preliminary investigation has been under way against the German performance group “Center for Political Beauty” (ZPS) according to §129 StGB at the request of the public prosecutor’s office in Gera (Thuringia) with serious suspicion of “forming a criminal organization”. The investigation was initiated one week after the start of the ZPS action “Deine Stele” (Your Stela), the construction of a copy of the Berlin Holocaust memorial opposite the house of right wing MP Björn Höcke (AFD).
Investigations according to §129 has never been used against artists before. They allow comprehensive surveillance and applied to particularly serious crimes such as terrorism and gang crime and which are punishable by terms of imprisonment of two to five years. The proceedings were also not discontinued after the Cologne Regional Court, in its decision of February 2018, clearly and unambiguously regarded the action of the ZPS as a “work of art” and assessed it to be fully covered by the fundamental rights of artistic freedom and freedom of expression.
The case became public by a parliamentary interpellation from the Left party, followed by investigative reports from the media. After 16 months, the case was dropped yesterday.
The Gorki Theater, Berlin which presented several ZPS projects , wrote an open letter of protest, signed by a large number of people and cultural institutions, including ITI, which protests against the criminalization of critical art: “We formally oppose and defend ourselves against a tendency towards the political-ideological criminalisation of art, which endangers the community and the free democratic basic order, and against the the instrumentalisation of criminal law on the basis of convictions.”
The State of Artistic Freedom 2019 report was launched on March 26 and informs about 673 cases of violations of artistic freedom that occurred in different cultural spheres in 80 countries throughout 2018. The 2018 report had 553 cases of artistic freedom violations in 78 countries. Growing: violating freedom of artistic expression by counter-terrorism legislation. 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 ant-extremism legislation and measures against artists in 2018.