Spotlighting artistic freedom with UNESCO’s 2005 Convention – Marking World Press Freedom Day
Artistic freedom in the digital environment and tackling new challenges in cultural policies will be among the topics for debate to mark World Press Freedom Day 2016 in Helsinki, Finland.
Kicking off a series of events will be a high-level panel on 2nd May on the future of cultural policies for sustainable development and the impact on policy making of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions that is organised in partnership with the HANASAARI Culture Centre for Sweden and Finland and UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development.
The line-up will feature UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, the Finnish Minister of Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Sweden’s Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, Linda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland, Minister of Culture, Norway, Bertel Haarder, Minister of Culture Denmark and Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education, Science and Culture for Iceland.
The event will explore priorities to shape future cultural policies, especially in the context of the new Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030, as well as the need for action on the issue of artistic expression. Some 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists were recorded in 2015, doubling the number of cases cited in 2014, according to Art Under Threat, a report produced by Freemuse – an international NGO defending and monitoring freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.
‘’In the spirit of the 2005 Convention, we must reaffirm that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of expression, information and communication is a pre-requisite for the creation, distribution and enjoyment of diverse cultural expressions,” Danielle Cliche, UNESCO’s Chief of Section of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions said.
“Supporting freedom of movement for creative professionals, and increasing social and economic rights of artists, are among the goals to work towards,” she added.
Highlights of the Helsinki event will also feature a keynote speech by Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and Chairperson of the Finnish National gallery, and a debate on ‘Improving Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age’.
"As an artist and an activist I know how it feels to have freedom of expression taken away — it’s not only personally devastating, but it robs our society of the diversity of what it means to be human," Deeyah Khan, Emmy Award winning Norwegian/Pakistani film maker said.
Ms Khan together with Nigeria’s Jude Dibia (writer), Iraqi-Finnish visual artist, Adel Abidin, French visual artist Aude Pariset and Leevi Haapala, Director of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, will discuss how artists can use digital technology to promote freedom of expression and on the impact it has made already.
A special parallel session,‘’Is artistic freedom a new development challenge? ’’ will be opened by Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Finland’s Minister of Education and Culture on the 3rd of May with leading authors from UNESCO’s Global Report, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies.
“Violations on artistic freedom stem from political, religious, cultural social and gender issues. Conflicts over artistic expressions stem from conflicts within societies, conflicts over control of the public sphere and artists are particularly vulnerable as they frequently work alone,” said Ole Reitov, Executive Director, Freemuse and author of Challenges of Artistic Freedom chapter in UNESCO’s Global Report “Re|Shaping Cultural Policies”.
‘’Rule of law and international Conventions must be respected and implemented by all Member States. Cultural diversity is only possible when artists’ rights to free expression and all groups of societies are guaranteed the freedom of access to and security to take part in cultural events,’’ he added.’
The Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies has been funded by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) under the project Enhancing Fundamental Freedoms through the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
“SIDA is supporting civil society actors as they have a key role in contributing to democratic development and increasing respect for human rights. Through the 2005 Convention, we can encourage Governments to introduce policies that protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions and make a compelling case for placing freedom of expression, not least for artists and culture professionals, on the agenda of sustainable development,” Marie Ottosson, Assistant Director General, Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) said.”
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Programme of Events for Press Freedom Day 2016
Watch on liveWebcast:
May 2, National Museum at 13.00
May 3, Finlandia Hall at 10.30