(NEW YORK) – PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) and the Don’t Delete Art (DDA) coalition will lead a Day of Action on Thurs., June 15, with supporters gathering outside major museums in New York City from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to highlight artistic censorship on social media and urge technology companies to use content moderation to protect artists’ free expression online.

DDA is a collaboration uniting advocacy groups and artists to defend artistic freedom online. The coalition released the Don’t Delete Art Manifesto on Feb. 16 to demand that artists and arts professionals are prioritized in social media content regulation.

Further campaign details are available at www.dontdelete.art. The action will be documented live on DDA’s Instagram (@dontdelete.art).

The manifesto calls on social media companies to reconsider existing restrictions on artistic content, review alleged violations, and create better appeals and notifications processes. The campaign has been endorsed by artists, curators, arts educators, gallerists, museums, and other institutions in over 89 countries. The Day of Action will spotlight the core demands of the Manifesto. DDA members will hand out stickers and flyers outside major art museums and later deliver the manifesto to Meta’s New York office.

ARC Director Julie Trebault said: “Artists rely on social media to promote their work, connect with followers, and earn a living. Unfortunately, art is arbitrarily suppressed or taken down – often due to opaque and inconsistent content moderation and appeal processes. Social media companies need to do better. Digital spaces are one of the last vanguards for artists to safely post their work and reach large audiences, particularly as repression and censorship  increase worldwide.”

NCAC Arts & Culture Advocacy Program Director Elizabeth Larison: “We routinely hear from artists who feel disempowered in the face of social media content moderation policies. While these platforms tout themselves as vehicles for sharing and celebrating culture and creative expression, this is not always the case. We have documented instances in which artists have been penalized for posting images of award-winning work and work that has been commissioned by revered museums. The impact of such policies is especially devastating to artists in early and mid-career who lack gallery representation and artists who live under oppressive regimes.

Formed in 2020, Don’t Delete Art includes PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Art & Culture Advocacy Program, Freemuse, and  artist-activists Savannah Spirit, Spencer Tunick, and Emma Shapiro. The coalition’s Online Gallery displays art that is suppressed by or removed from social media platforms; its resources aid artists in navigating the current terms of social media censorship; and its blogs and newsletters provide analysis of new censorship trends and policy changes.

Day of Action Details and Schedule

  • Artists on social media platforms are invited to use the DDA Giphy digital sticker to “censor” posts of their artwork to heighten the visibility of self-censorship among artists, who often do this in order for their posts to be favored by platform algorithms. To use the sticker, in the Giphy search bar type “@dontdeleteart” and select the sticker you want to use.
  • New York City: Beginning at 11am, DDA members will pass out stickers and Manifesto flyers outside major museums, calling on artists, curators, and leading art institutions to join the movement. Supporters can pick up campaign materials and sign the manifesto at the following locations:
    • 11-11:30 am: Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort St, New York
    • 12-12:30 pm: Parsons School of Design, 66 5th Ave, New York
    • 1-1:30 pm: Magnum Foundation, 59 E. 4th St, New York
    • 2-2:30 pm: New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York
    • 3-3:30 pm: International Center of Photography Museum, 79 Essex St, New York
    • 4-4:30 pm: Meta Headquarters, 770 Broadway, New York

DDA members will end their route at the Meta N.Y. Headquarters, where they will deliver a list of Manifesto Signatories to date, along with Manifesto demands and documentation of circumstances in which Meta policies have failed artists.

The Artists at Risk Connection expands on PEN America’s work by defending artists and safeguarding the right to artistic freedom of expression. Launched in 2017, ARC works at the intersection of art and society to address the needs of artists at risk and facilitate collaboration between the organizations that serve them, creating networks of advocacy and empowerment.   ARC aims to safeguard the right to artistic freedom of expression around the world and works to ensure that artists of all disciplines everywhere can live and work without fear.

The National Coalition Against Censorship’s Art & Culture Advocacy Program is the only national project dedicated to working directly with individual artists and curators involved in censorship disputes. Its main goal is to protect artists’ rights to participate in the democratic dialogue by defending public access to their work and supporting their ability to freely express views that might be unpopular or controversial. 

Freemuse is an independent international organization advocating for and defending freedom of artistic expression. We believe that at the heart of violations of artistic freedom is the  effort to silence opposing or less preferred views and values by those  in power – politically, religiously or societally – mostly due to fear  of their transformative effect. With this assumption, we can address  root causes rather than just symptoms – if we hold violators accountable.Instagram:  

About PEN America

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. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057