On behalf of civil society organisations Freemuse Executive Director Srirak Plipat spoke to the 12th Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 11 December 2018. See above also the film that UNESCO published, based on interviews made in Norway, Senegal and Indonesia, which was presented during a public debate on artistic freedom during the IGC meeting.
Srirat called on the IGC to:
Prioritise the safety of artists and audiences, as attacks on artists and artistic freedom continue to rise.
Urge state parties to use legal and policy measures to protect women, LGBTI and minority artists from attacks and violations of artistic freedom.
Publicly recognise artists as human rights defenders and coordinate protection with existing international protection mechanisms.
The Cuban government has decided to stop the full implementation of Decree 349. The measure constitute a return to the times of greater centralism. It establishes that artists must be linked to cultural entities under government control and, only then, they can obtain the necessary permits to present their work in spaces open to the public. Responding to the flood of criticism that Decree 349 has provoked, (#NoAlDecreto349) the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso, announced that Decree 349 will only be applied in a “consensus” and “gradual” manner. Nevertheless, Decree 349 went officially into effect on December 7.
An official seven page letter from mid September, sent by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to Chancellor Angelika Merkel, was published on December 6. The letter demanded Germany to cut its funding of the Jewish Museum in Berlin over the exhibition, Welcome to Jerusalem, since it “presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective of the city”. The museum’s main exhibition is running since December 2017. The Jewish Museum said in a statement that “We believe open dialogue on controversial issues is crucial to allow (the museum’s) visitors to form their own position on the matter and judge it for themselves.”
Also listed are 12 NGOs and culture organizations, initiatives and institutions that Israel demands Germany fiscally divest from, including the Berlin International Film Festival (the Berlinale), exchange and funding programmes from the German Foreign Ministry, Women Wage Peace, Action Medeor, the Catholic Relief Services, and the Israeli opinion and news website +972 Magazine, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation (politically associated with the German Green Party). The letter urges Germany to “review its funding guidelines” for organizations that are involved in “anti-Israeli propaganda” or endorse the anti-Israeli BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).
For a campaign of arts organisations and human rights charities to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, artist Ai Weiwei has created a flag to celebrate universal human rights in UK. On 24 — 30 June 2019 schools and organisations are called “to celebrate that human rights are for everyone, every day.”
The website offers tutorials and information material for schools.
On December 4 the European Parliament accepted the Commission’s proposal for a revision of the Visa Code. The changes in the Visa Code will better recognize the needs of of touring artists and cultural professionals. The European social partners of the live performance sector, represented by EAEA and Pearle* Live Performance Europe have welcomed the possibility for this group of travellers to be able to travel within the Schengen area for up to one year as long as they do not stay more than 90 days in a 180-day period in one single Member State would facilitate the touring needs, increase opportunities for extended tours and thus bring more income to the local and regional economies. It will also reduce the time wasted to leave the Schengen, related costs and loss of income. The other outcomes are also an improvement:
possibility to lodge an application already nine months in advance
clear definition of the costs included in the visa fees requested by service providers and possibility for applicants to be further allowed to lodge applications directly at consulate
possibility to submit visa application in the consulate of the destination country where the employer or host organisation is based
a visa fee of 60 EUR for applicants whose data are already entered in the Visa Information System and a reduction of the visa fee to 60 EUR for cultural touring groups
Pearle* and EAEA regret that the complicated and strict system to obtain a Multiple Entry Visa, has not been made easier and clearer for visa applicants.
The first-of-its-kind, 100-page report has been launched on November 29 at the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen. The report highlights the inequality, exclusion and harassment of women artists and audiences around the world, as documented through five years of research. It is based on dozens of qualitative interviews and contains analysis of over 90 cases of violations against women artists and audiences.
Read the report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and