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About 12 years ago Todd founded freeDimensional, a New York-based organization that formed and activated a global network of artist residencies, arts administrators, legal counsel, and those who provide all forms of support for artists in distress. He was joined in this work by Sidd who developed and directed programs before stopping to attend Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Over its decade of work, freeDimensional successfully ensured safe haven for dozens of artists. In addition, it accumulated a vast knowledge on artist rights, artist safety, and freedom of expression from which Artist Rights will draw.
The Artist Rights section of ArtsEverywhere considers the critical roles artists play in society in relation to their mobility, free expression, safety and labour conditions. It includes articles, discussions, and examples of fieldwork at the intersection of arts, journalism, and human rights.
So far we have published a dozen essays and op-eds on artist rights, including the following:
- Human Rights, Development, and Democracy in Africa: What Role for the Arts? by Mike Van Graan (Cape Town)
- Analyzing the Art of Resistance by Mary Ann DeVlieg (New York City)
- The Cost of Telling the Truth by Sidd Joag (New York City)
- Rejecting the Tragedy of Violence by Arahmaiani (Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia)
- Looking Back on Charlie Hebdo by Todd Lanier Lester (São Paulo)
As with so much of the work that ArtsEverywhere connects with, many partners are required to accomplish the full scope of work. Artist Rights on ArtsEverywhere has or will have formal and casual partnerships with many organizations and networks such as IETM, the international network for contemporary performing arts.
This week IETM is hosting the International Campaign for Freedom of Expression in support of the IETM Satellite Meeting in Beirut (6-9 October 2016). They provided the following statement, which resonates fully with the intentions of ArtsEverywhere:
Artists’ rights for freedom of expression are violated all over the world – by states, religious movements, lobbying groups, media, corporations, communities and even by artists themselves.
Censorship takes various forms, from most aggressive sanctions to most concealed constraints, including self-censorship – under fear of losing financial support or in a bid to balance between respecting and provoking political, social and religious sensibilities.
As we speak here today/tonight, more than 150 artists and cultural professionals are gathering in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in support of ongoing reforms of censorship laws in Lebanon and similar campaigns in the South-Mediterranean region.
We resort to our strongest remedy – solidarity, and join our voice to them by dedicating our event today/performance tonight to artistic freedom of expression all over the world.
ArtsEverywhere and its presenting organization, Musagetes, add their voices to this solidarity.
Todd has been an advisor and editor at ArtsEverywhere since its conception in early 2015. He brought numerous partnerships to the platform, including the World Policy Institute (see our joint Arts-Policy Nexus), Contemporary& online magazine, AnotherAfrica.net, multiple partners for our Queer City project in São Paulo, and various others that are still in development. Beginning in October 2016, Todd will serve as Partnerships Director and Editorial Advisor to ArtsEverywhere. In that role, he and Sidd will work closely together again to develop Artist Rights.
And, having reached its ten-year horizon, freeDimensional is in the process of closing and handing over its archive of practice to the University of Hildesheim, which holds a UNESCO chair in cultural policy, arts education and freedom of expression.
With great excitement we anticipate Sidd and Todd’s ideas for the Artist Rights line of inquiry, and how the results (e.g. ‘Artist [safe] Spaces’ curriculum) will find their way into the classrooms and learning environment of the University of Hildesheim.