UNESCO’s Create|2030 Talks - What is artistic freedom to you?

When :

from Thursday 13 December, 2018
to Thursday 13 December, 2018

Type of event :

Special Event

Where :

UNESCO Headquarters, Room II, 7, Place de Fontenoy, 75007, Paris, France

Promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of expression is a pre-requisite for the creation, distribution and enjoyment of diverse cultural expressions. This diversity can not be guaranteed if the freedom to imagine and create is under threat. It can not be guaranteed if citizens are not free to participate in cultural life. It can not be guaranteed if artists are unable to travel freely, to work on common projects or associate with their peers in other countries.

Today, there are more ways than ever to communicate artistically. Yet every year there are thousands of songs, paintings, plays, dances or books that are censored, vandalized or destroyed. Book fairs and film festivals have pulled works that ‘offended’ from their programmes. National museums and galleries have removed artworks after being attacked. Many films have been denied certification for reasons ranging from denigrating religion, to harming moral values or undermining political unity. Television production companies have annulled the contracts of actors who have allied themselves with opposition groups.

Human rights and arts monitors produce annual statistics that show a rise in the number of threats to artistic freedom. They also warn of the growing and corrosive effects of digital surveillance and that online trolling is putting an increasing number of artists at risk. Such threats generate important cultural, social and economic losses to society. It deprives artists of their means of expression and livelihood. It deprives citizens of their right to participate in the cultural life of their choosing.

These developments raise important questions for UNESCO. It is working to raise awareness of artistic freedom and advocates for the right of artists and cultural professionals to create without censorship or intimidation. It works to ensure the right of artists to have their works supported, distributed and remunerated. It promotes the freedom of movement and the right of artists and cultural professionals to associate freely in professional organisations. UNESCO works to develop the capacities of government and civil society stakeholders to collect information and data on the status of artists and artistic freedom as well as to support the design or review policies and legislation on these issues.