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

Call for UNESCO reforms and a UN plan for safety of artists

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.

Source: Freemuse

Arts Rights Justice Program at Hildesheim UNESCO Chair

The ARJ Program was developed in cooperation with 30 international expert institutions and is initially intended to run from 2017 until 2019 with the support of the German Foreign Office and the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). It will encompass an annual ACADEMY accompanied by an international CONFERENCE at the University of Hildesheim (Germany); a series of ARJ LABORATORIES with partners in different world regions; and an open access online library.
This year’s ARJ ACADEMY runs from August 24 – August 30, followed by the ARJ CONFERENCE August 30 – September 1 in Hildesheim (Germany). A call for particiaption an an application form is online. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Source and further information: arts-rights-justice.de

27 May, Nörrköpping: ACAR-Seminar “Artistic Expression as Political Manifestation”

“Theatre as Resistance – artistic expression as political manifestation” is a public seminar, organized by Scensverige (former Teaterunionen) in the framework of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2017 in Norrköping.
In 2016, the number of offenses against artistes and crimes against artistic freedom around the world doubled according to a recent report. The seminar presents the facts surrounding this together with Jonatan Stanczak, The Freedom Theatre Jenin, Natalia Koliada, Belarus Free Theatre and Abduljaebbar Alsuhili, comedian, actor and activist from Yemen.
The seminar is arranged in collaboration with Kulturhuset Stadsteatern and ITI’s Action Committe for Artists Rights.
Date: Saturday May 27, 10:00-11:45. Place: Louis De Geer Konsert & Kongress, Nörrköping, Sweden.
Source and info at Scensverige

Germany refuses visa for Nigerian actors

The international festival for children and youth theatre “Starke Stücke” in Germany had invited the theatre group KiNiNso Koncepts from Lagos (Nigeria) with their play “Sandscapes”. The play was co-produced with the Goethe Institute Lagos, the German cultural institute which itself is founded by the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The visa applications from 6 members of the group – Tolu Aina, Joy Akrah, Jubril Gbadamosi, Anifiok Inyang, Michael Ajimati, Abisoye Kadiku – were rejected by the German embassy on January 20th. To provide evidence of their family and economic rootings in Nigeria the artists delivered more than 10 different documents, among them bank statements of the company, Letter of reference, guarantee and assurance from a lawyer, invitation letters to the ASSITEJ world congress as well as from the British Council. Regardless of all appeals, no visa were permitted. “I wonder whether such cases are still bureaucracy or already lived everyday racism” commented Stefan Fischer-Fels, artistic director of Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and vice president of ASSITEJ international at his festival opening speech. “It is unacceptable that we build walls that even the artists can not overcome.”

“What thoughts and feelings did this visa incident invoke in you and your colleagues?” answers from Joshua Alabi,  Artistic & Creative Director KiNiNso-koncepts Productions, Lagos to German journalist Elena Philipp.

Source: KJTZ – Centre for children and youth theatre in Germany, Starke Stücke festival