500 Organizations Worldwide Collaborate to Provide Lifesaving Services to Artists at Risk

Livestream happening at 6 pm Eastern tonight.

Ai Wei Wei 2008 courtesy of Andy Miah under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Artists at Risk Connection launches today in tandem with a public event in New York featuring one of the world’s most prominent threatened artists, Ai Weiwei. Ai, who will be in conversation with author and PEN America President Andrew Solomon, was detained in China without charge for 81 days during 2011 and later denied his passport to travel. The event will be streamed live online at 6pm (Eastern) at PEN.org Livestream.

“Fats was starting to think that if you flipped every bit of received wisdom on its head you would have the truth. He wanted to journey through dark labyrinths and wrestle with the strangeness that lurked within; he wanted to crack open piety and expose hypocrisy; he wanted to break taboos and squeeze wisdom from their bloody hearts; he wanted to achieve a state of amoral grace, and be baptised backwards into ignorance and simplicity.”
― J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

PEN America announced today the launch of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), an online collaboration of more than 500 global organizations that provide life-saving resources to artists worldwide who face oppression, persecution, arrest, and violence for their creative work.

Recent reported threats against New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the cancellation of a major planned work from the Louvre in Paris, and the withdrawal of a major film from Russian theatres offer stark reminders of the hotly contested terrain that artists occupy. There were more than a thousand attacks on artists in 2016, according to the Copenhagen-based Freemuse—more than double the prior year. While hundreds of organizations offer assistance to imperiled artists, ARC is a first-of-its-kind platform bringing all of these resources together in a single online hub, accessible in 104 languages.

“Artist face backlash when they push up against intellectual, social, and ideological boundaries,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America. “While global campaigns and U.N. resolutions have been mounted to protect journalists and human rights defenders, threats to artists have gotten limited international attention. The Artist at Risk Connection brings together an extraordinary network of global organizations committed to augmenting the assistance available to artists who risk their freedom and their lives in the name of creative expression.”

ARC collates resources—including emergency funding, housing opportunities, residencies, fellowships and grants, and legal, immigration, and resettlement services—in an interactive online catalogue to help threatened artists quickly identify programs for which they’re eligible. This exhaustive database is the first of its kind for artists-at-risk, who have typically had to piece together assistance through a combination of personal contacts, referrals, and web searches, often under dire circumstances.

ARC also provides training and facilitates collaboration within a network of artist assistance organizations, including Index on Censorship (United Kingdom), ICORN (Norway), Al Mawred (Lebanon), and the Sundance Institute (United States), to strengthen each organization’s ability to provide comprehensive support to artists in dire need. Over time, ARC will work to elevate the visibility of artists at risk, seeking to mobilize an even greater breadth global arts institutions to play a more prominent role in assisting their field’s most vulnerable.

“At-risk artists often operate in the shadows, striving to continue to work amid pressures and dangers to their livelihoods and safety,” said Julie Trébault, Director of the Artist at Risk Connection. “Given the central role of the arts in society and culture, those who pay the heaviest price for their contributions need and deserve greater support and recognition for their sacrifices.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) safeguards the right to artistic freedom of expression and ensures that artists everywhere can live and work without fear. An interactive hub to gather, share, and coordinate the many resources, services, and forms of assistance available to artists at risk, ARC aims to strengthen connections between threatened artists and the organizations that support them.

“Stories of Hope” …. and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Such beautiful and uplifting responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, l’chaim, October 4, 2017. Together, these are a small gift of antidote to news reports. Grab a cup of tea. Take a breath. Read. Ponder. Smile! These are as Paul Brookes says, “happy poems.”

Thanks to Paul, Lady Nimue, Renee Espiru, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Colin Blundell and Kakali Das Gosh for coming out to play.

Please join us for tomorrow’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, always theme – not form – based. You are welcome no matter the stage of your career – beginner, emerging, professional. It’s all about getting to know other poets and having your say.

Stories of Hope

The world thrives on stories of hope,

Little cracked,but surviving homes;

I live each moment in awe

From when life picked me first

So out of line, yet so full of want;

You are home to me,my world,

The only constant reminder,

My prayers and wishes answered;

No matter what changes around,

Am blessed;love can be found

If you raise a toast for the gifts

That equally to strangers, you receive to give.

© 2017, Lady Nimue, Prats Corner: Pages of my mind: collecting words, experiences and memories …

Lady Nimue is new to our pages but has been blogging and posting her poems and other works for years. She says in her “I, Me, Myself” – “I love to experiment in reading, watching and listening to all that suggested to Me by close friends and trusted sources; and then i maintain a record here of my reactions and impressions – what i hear myself say in my head and heart about all the living and non !

“Hope you find something of your liking too !! And  if you don’t let me know about that too ..”

We welcome Lady Nimue to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt.

there was a time

when one bottle of wine
seemed as if it was going to last forever;
the one I’m thinking of (purchased
one dinnertime in summer at 7/6d)
occupied a space in my life
a mile high and spanned the gap
all the way to Tibet; as you drank a glass
that dinnertime it seemed to refill itself
from the dregs of love

when one kiss would last
as long as the Rachmaninov cello sonata
whenever you put the record
on the turntable and let the needle fall –
obliterated in the so well-known cadences
which I could have been whistling
had my lips not been squashed against hers

when a bicycle ride would construct a day
down to the sea and back
across the long valley and over the downs –
magic ride often repeated –
I fill it from these dregs of memory

© 2017, Colin Blundell (Colin Blundell, All and Everything)

From a forthcoming book of poems by Colin Blundell

NOTE: 7/6d old money in 1964 = what would be 36p now
= after inflation in 2017 £6.80 = US$ 8.80

.the year.

gently go forward, then gently back
recreating past deeds and misdemenours
you thought forgotten.

gently go forward knowing we are mostly
all the same, with motes not spoken of,
except disorder.

gently it passed behind you, seen
clearly while looking for god.

gently gather winter leaves to keep
in paper bags. these are the golden
days .

my friend.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

..earth & heaven..

I have been away, this is the first day back.

not floods, yet death, and roofs flying, to produce home less ness.

I understand nothing of your situation, yet I know some stuff, and mostly i can only listen.

I guess we have to help ourselves. I met some good people away.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

Every New Beginning

To every newborn baby born
to those that overcome
to family diverse and all

for every new sunrise bright
for every moonlit night

the seasons that bring change
mother nature nurturing growth

as seen in fields of flowers
kaleidoscope colors
in seeding fields & in
fields laid fallow

to harvesting and being thankful
for the celebration of life
& living

within each beginning
lies peace

© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight and Inspiration, Imagination & Creativity with Wings, Haibun, AR, Haiku & Haiga)

#An appeal to endure #

A dark tunnel
A murky avenue
A lunatic   storm
Puzzled looks
Embarrassed scenes
Pixilated hearts
A giggling child
A lotus pond
A blooming daffodil
Vanished agony
Annihilated pain
An appeal to endure …

© 2017, Kakali Das Ghosh

A Little Girl

places an autumn oak leaf
in all its yellow and red on my conveyor belt.

I consider my potential responses:

Sorry love you can’t buy that here.

Sorry love it has no barcode, so won’t go through.

That’s a free gift from nature, love.

At the finish I advise

Sorry you can’t put that through, love

and she removes the leaf from the belt.

At the finish it is all child’s play
in the adult buy and sell.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

A Grandkid’s Hug


You’re such a klutz!
as I pull out my wallet
and silver coin falls out

I hold your warm hand
after all these years
and something passes
something does not fall


Magic a grandkids hug
Round the middle
Softens sharp nails
Smooths frayed edges

Unaware hug anyway
any how whatever any why
all hammering
all awkward shaving down.

Gone in an instant.
Grandkids hugs should be
ever prescribed

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

In A Hush

of winter
from bare limbs silhouetted

against a grey sky
a sudden voice
from tiny lungs

your full heart lifts
as if the tree had blossomed

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

A Breathless

small boy in an angry bird t shirt,
mock flight jacket,
Hawaiian shorts and trainers
bursts into the shop shouting

I’ve got fifty pee.”

I reply that we close at eight,
so he has an hour.

“Just ran all way here.
What can I buy? he asks
mouth open before a wall of sweets.

I show him in one corner trays full
of small chocolate eggs at 49p.
“Yes. Yes one of these.”

His delight makes me smile.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)