Livestream happening at 6 pm Eastern tonight.
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,
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.