(New York, NY) — PEN America announced today it is launching a network to provide rapid response support for artists across Latin America and the Caribbean. The Protection of Artists at Risk — Protección de Artistas en Riesgo (PAR) network brings together the resources and expertise of seven organizations to provide assistance to persecuted creatives in Latin America; to coordinate support for artists and cultural professionals in the region who face persecution and harassment because of their creative work; and to facilitate communications and information-sharing between artists and organizations throughout the region. 

“As artist-activists, we have been exposed to threats, censorship, and dangerous situations because of our work, which have affected our vision of art. We believe that art is vital and key to social processes. It is dangerous for those who seek to corner it and co-opt its freedom,” said Andrea and Octavio Gana, the Chilean artists behind an audiovisual studio called Delight Lab. “For us, the support from these institutions has been very reassuring, because they have advised us in taking legal action, and they do not make us feel alone, since they make visible the abuses against artistic expression that occurred in democracy.” 

Governments across Latin America and the Caribbean are cracking down on freedom of expression, leading to increased rates of threats and harassment against artists and creatives who publish dissenting or critical works. The PAR network will draw on the experience and expertise of local and regional organizations committed to defending artistic expression.

The current organizational members of the PAR network are:

CADAL

Acción Constitucional

Fondo de Acción Urgente para América Latina y el Caribe

Fundación Acceso

PEN Latin America and the Caribbean

ARTICLE 19 – Oficina para México y Centroamérica

Artists at Risk Connection, PEN America

“Artists and creatives throughout Latin America are at risk daily for critiquing authoritarian governments, questioning uncomfortable truths, and exposing critical social and political inequities. The launch of the PAR network could not be more timely, and I am thrilled that so many esteemed partners throughout the region understand the value of a joint network for protection, coordination, and information-sharing and are eager to turn this vision into a reality,” said Julie Trébault, the director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “With the help of this network, at-risk artists will no longer have to feel like they are alone, and by contacting PAR, artists will find themselves in contact with a wide range of local, national, and international organizations who are pooling their collective resources to defend the right to artistic freedom of expression.” 

PAR is modeled after the Amani: Creative Defence Network, which was launched by PEN America in April 2020 to coordinate protective efforts on behalf of at-risk creatives in Africa and has already secured assistance and launched public advocacy campaigns on behalf of numerous persecuted artists. 

Creative professionals at risk can fill out a secure form available in Spanish and Portuguese. They can also contact the network via email at [email protected] They will be asked to provide information about circumstances, which will be treated in confidence and shared only through end-to-end encrypted platforms. ARC will then facilitate the activation of the network in order to provide the best response based on their needs.