PEN America

Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) safeguards the right to artistic freedom of expression and ensures that artists and cultural professionals everywhere

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ARC primarily works towards this mission by connecting artists to a global network of organizations that can provide them with direct support. The network is made up of arts organizations and institutions, human rights organizations, and organizations working specifically on issues of artistic freedom and with artists at risk. ARC plays the unique role of connector and coordinator, matching need and response to equip artists to withstand pressures, continue to create, and secure tangible assistance as necessary.

ARC receives requests from a diverse range of artists, including visual artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, cartoonists, and more. Visual artists account for 62% of total requests and musicians 12%. Since its inception, ARC has assisted over 400 individual artists and cultural professionals from over 63 countries by connecting them to a wide range of services, including emergency funds, legal assistance, and temporary relocation programs. In the first half of 2021 alone, ARC received over 75 requests for assistance, a record high for the project, stemming from crises in Belarus, Myanmar, and Cuba, among others. In recent weeks, following the outbreak of the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, ARC has additionally received over 200 requests for assistance from Afghan artists and cultural practitioners.

ARC also recognizes that artists are often not connected to or aware of human rights and other assistance organizations. As such, ARC has developed several activities focused on providing information, resources, and platforms for at-risk artists in particular. Earlier this year, ARC released its Safety Guide for Artists (https://artistsatriskconnection.org/guide), a one-of-a-kind comprehensive manual specifically geared toward artists that explores topics such as defining and understanding risk, preparing for threats, fortifying one’s digital security, documenting persecution, finding assistance, and recovering from trauma. Tips and strategies were drawn from the testimony of artists who have faced persecution, including Afghan visual artist Kubra Khademi and American visual artist Dread Scott, as well as the research and expertise of ARC’s vast network of partners. To complement the Safety Guide, ARC has also developed a series of regional capacity-building trainings to equip artists and arts and cultural organizations with knowledge such as the threats artists may face, strategies to prepare for and mitigate risk, and digital security best practices.

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  • WOMEX 2021

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