Artists At Risk Coalition
At PEN America, we believe that artists play a critical role in every society: they stimulate innovation, promote dialogue and discourse across borders, they bear witness to inhumanity, reinvent media, articulate cultural critiques, and work with communities to effect change.
With so much power inherent in their creative expression, artists around the world are often threatened and persecuted for the work they produce. In May 2015, Dai Jianyong, a Chinese visual artist, was detained and threatened with five years’ imprisonment for creating satirical images of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Nigerian author and activist Jude Dibia, who is openly gay and whose work deals with sexuality, was forced to leave Nigeria in 2014 out of concern for his safety following the passage of stringent homophobic legislation. Attacks on artists around the world are on the rise. In 2016, Freemuse registered 1,028 attacks on artistic freedom across 78 countries, ranging from killings to detentions, nearly double the number logged in 2015.
In response to the ever-increasing need to protect threatened artists, PEN America has launched the Artists at Risk Coalition (ARC). Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ARC is a groundbreaking 3-year project that will bring together more than a thousand organizations from around the world whose mission is to protect threatened artists, and enshrine the human right to artistic freedom of expression. Acting as a resource hub, and central point of coordination and joint action between threatened artists and the organizations that support them, ARC will elevate the field of artistic freedom as a whole, and increase the visibility of the challenges individual artists face – ensuring they can safely continue their work at a political moment when this is more critical than ever.
To guarantee an expansive reach, ARC defines the term “artist” broadly, encompassing artists who work across every field and medium, including visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, performance artists, and writers.
For more information about the project, click here.
Cutting Off Culture: Immigration Ban Thwarts Artistic Exchange
President Trump’s hasty and malign January 27 Executive Order barring immigration from seven countries, blocking the entry of all refugees, and cutting off all migration from Syria to the… More
Sounding the Alarm: Threatened Artists Speak Out Against Increasing Censorship in Russia
Pressure from new Russian laws and encroachment on free expression, and the increasing hostility of religious authorities threatens the arts and culture communities of Russia. More
Health of Jailed Iranian Brothers Worsens in the Face of Mistreatment and Abuse
The Rajabian brothers began their hunger strike to protest conditions at Evin prison. More
August Featured Cases: Artists Under Attack
This August, PEN’S Featured Cases highlight three artists at risk, who have been harassed, arrested, fined, censored, or killed for expressing themselves and producing art for others to enjoy… More
PEN Concerned by Google’s Suspension of Popular Artist’s Blog
On June 27, without prior warning, Google disabled his blog and Gmail account of artist Dennis Cooper with a generic notification that he had violated Google¹s terms of service.… More
President Sisi: Release Ahmed Naji
More than 120 writers and artists join PEN America to protest the unjust imprisonment of our colleague, Egyptian novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji, and request his immediate release. More
President Obama: Press for Release of Jailed Poet Ashraf Fayadh
We, the undersigned free expression and human rights organizations, call on you, President Obama, to push for the release of poet Ashraf Fayadh during your visit to Saudi Arabia… More
Kenya: Cartoonist Dismissed from Paper must be Reinstated or Compensated
News that Kenyan cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa (known as Gado) has been dismissed from the Nation Media Group’s Daily Nation, allegedly due to political pressure, is deeply concerning, PEN centers… More
Relevant Research and Reports
Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has seized upon information as a key weapon in his fight to promote Russia’s resurgence in the world. With the mainstream press increasingly toeing the… More
The PEN Report: Creativity and Constraint in Today’s China
The result of five years of research and targeted advocacy on behalf of censored or persecuted writers and journalists in the People's Republic of China, this report compiles the… More