Selected talks, artist talks, conferences and seminars
For the third year running, artistic freedom was in the spotlight of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) held this year in Accra, Ghana (2-3 May). Artists, human rights activists and media professionals came together to debate global emerging challenges to artistic freedom in the digital environment.
The high-level panel discussion “Artistic freedom in the digital age” was moderated by Ojoma Ochai (Nigeria), Director of Arts, West Africa for British Council and included the participation of satirical Ghanaian artist, Bright Ackwerh, Fatou Jagne (Senegal), Director of Article 19 West Africa, Hija Kamran (Pakistan), lead communications and researcher at Digital Rights Foundation and Ole Reitov (Denmark), former Executive Director of Freemuse.
"I believe we need multi-faceted strategies to support artistic freedom. Cultural actors need direct support. Independent networks for monitoring threats to artistic freedom need to be established and supported. Safe spaces for artists must be nurtured" said Irina Bokova, Director General UNESCO in her opening speech before key players from the world of culture debated the status of artists and freedom of artistic expression at a special side event, held on the sidelines of the 38th session of the General Conference at UNESCO HQ on 13 November.
Special guests included Ole Reitov, Deeyah Khan, Film Director, Music Producer and Human Rights Activist and Mika Romanus, Deputy Director-General of the Swedish Arts Council.
During the 2017 edition of International Women’s Day two roundtables “The Courage to Create: Gender Equality and the Arts”, held at UNESCO on 10 March 2017, focused on the achievements of pioneering women and the new frontiers for gaining parity and artistic freedom.
“While being an artist is hard, being a female artist is even harder,” said to Ole Reitov. He called for the establishment of an “early cultural warning system” for creative expressions under threat, as women creators are often the first to be targeted.
Noting the key role of UNESCO, he declared that “countries around the world need to fully implement the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, which is an efficient and compelling policy tool for ensuring freedom of creation and diversity in the arts”.
Ole Reitov said : ”It is time for UNESCO to modernize its complaints mechanism or Human Rights Procedure as this mechanism is officially called” and called on The International Criminal Court (ICC), to initiate investigations and to charge well-known and identifiable leaders of these
terror organisation for their intentional destruction of intangible culture in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and, Mali.