Background Information


For UNESCO, artistic freedom is the freedom to imagine, create, and distribute diverse cultural expressions free of governmental censorship, political interference, or the pressures of non-state actors. It includes the right of all citizens to have access to these works and is essential for the wellbeing of societies.


Freemuse is an independent international NGO advocating for freedom of artistic expression and cultural diversity. It aims to improve legal and policy framework and practices of artistic freedom and cultural expression of state and non-state actors, by engaging with artists, activists, and others in using human rights-based research, advocacy and campaign to influence key policy and decision-makers.

Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI)

Led by immigration and human rights attorneys, Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) facilitates pro bono immigration representation and resettlement assistance for international artists who are persecuted or censored. Driven by their commitment to create meaningful change in the field of artistic freedom AFI developed Artistic Freedom Monitor reports, which are the first-of-its-kind project focused on research and policy advocacy for free creative expression.

Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL)

CADAL’s mission consists of research, dissemination, and support to the respect of civic, political and economic liberties. CADAL prioritizes the defense and strengthening of democracy as a cornerstone of economic and social progress, and the international promotion of human rights.

Artist at Risk

Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) safeguards the right to artistic freedom of expression and ensures that artists and cultural professionals everywhere can live and work without fear. Our ultimate goal is to address the needs of artists at risk and the organizations that serve them. ARC primarily achieves this by: ASSISTING persecuted artists by connecting them to our growing global network of resources; FACILITATING cooperation among human rights and art organizations; and by AMPLIFYING the stories and work of at-risk artists as well as raising visibility of the field of artistic freedom

International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN)

ICORN is an independent organization of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values, and promoting international solidarity. The 70 ICORN member cities offer long term, but temporary, shelter to those at risk as a direct consequence of their creative activities.

Artists Under Boycott. Sanctions against Russian artists and their work: their impact on artistic freedom and other fundamental rights  (Dec. 2022)
AGL has launched a White Paper calling upon cultural institutions and cultural event organisers to respect the rights of Russian artists and to show leadership in defending the universal right to freedom of artistic expression without discrimination. 

Cultural Control: Censorship and Suppression of the Arts in Poland (Oct. 2022)
Systematic Suppression: Hungary’s Arts and Culture in Crisis (March 2022)
Driven by the commitment to create meaningful change in the field of artistic freedom and improve conditions for artists in their home countries, the Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) has established the Artistic Freedom Monitor as a first-of-its-kind project focused on research and policy advocacy for free creative expression.

The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity
UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed delivered in 2013 the report

The State of Artistic Freedom 2022 (Feb. 2021)
Freemuse reports shows the extent of attacks on artists and creative freedom in 2021 through numbers and infographics that illustrate the stark reality of the struggle for rights

Painting the Rainbow: How LGBTI Freedom of Artistic Expression is denied (Dec. 2020)
The pioneering Freemuse report, reveals that even though LGBTI artists have been facing different types of discrimination in many different social, political, and legal contexts no laws, traditions, or religions can entirely stop artistic expression around these issues.

Freedom and creativity: defending art, defending diversity (2020)
The UNESCO report focuses on one of the 2005 Convention’s overarching goals: the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms and, in particular, artistic freedom. Freedom of expression, information and communication, as well as the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions is a prerequisite for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.

In April 2020, CAE published the position paper “Protecting artistic freedom as a European value

Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape came up with a concept for a digital exhibition on artistic freedomFree to Create, Create to be Free

Council Resolution on the EU Work Plan for Culture 2023–2026 2022/C 466/01

  • Free to Create – European Union Conference on Artistic Freedom and Cultural and Creative Industries

16 – 17 February 2023, Umeå, Sweden
Conference hosted by the Swedish Ministry of Culture as part of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2023.

3 – 5 May 2023, Stockhom, Sweden
Organised by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) in partnership with the Swedish Arts Council. The Summit is a highly participatory platform that fosters exchange between representatives from government, cultural and non-cultural sectors and civil society. In 2023, it will focus on the topic of “Safeguarding Artistic Freedom”.