Artistic Freedom is Not a Luxury !

There isn’t really one definition of artistic freedom but artistic freedom incorporates the right to actually think creatively It is the freedom to be able to create, to share, to enjoy, and disseminate arts and culture It’s to be able to do that without fearing attack imprisonment, threat and censorship But it’s also about being able to move freely It’s about being able to go to other countries to cross borders, to share your art, to learn from other people as well If artists are able to speak truth to power, are able to articulate difficult ideas, are able and free to articulate different ideas, to penetrate taboos and to challenge orthodoxies, then you’ve got a good democratic environment In order for democracy to function everyone has to have a voice whatever form that voice takes whether that is the form of a poem or a song or a protest song or a film or a picture Freedom of creation goes hand-in-hand with human development It is the artists who take this freedom It is the very foundation of artistic work in order to be able to create to debate to ask questions in society in a straight, skillful or unskillful way it’s the role of an artist I think the beauty of democracy is the diversity of voices that it accommodates we hear many stories, many versions alternative truths and alternative narratives When the space to tell different stories shrinks then democracy is in trouble and this is where the artist along with social workers, with journalists, play a very important role in bringing a diversity of perspectives to the debates of our times Artistic freedom is experiencing a lot of threats currently there are political threats to it there are a lot of countries worldwide who do not respect whatever Conventions they have ratified in regards to artistic freedom, freedom of expression in general Everything from religious fundamentalism, which is destroying the spaces and the ability for artists to create freely to political and state pressures to corporate censorship and One of the things that I think most people don’t really recognize is also self-censorship A lot of artists these days around the world, whether it’s in the North or in the South are doing a lot of self-censorship and it’s one of those issues that are really difficult and document because a lot of artists do not want to talk about it Why do they self censor? Well, part of that is because of increasing threats threats comes through social media from anonymous people it also comes from pressure groups who feel that they have specific rights and that those rights should not be violated There are things like film certification like galleries and theaters you won’t put on controversial work because they feel either they’re going to get an attack by an angry mob or they’re going to lose their funding or they’re going to lose their sponsors I feel that when it comes to female artists we face all the same resistance that our male counterparts do and then on top of that we also have to deal with the gendered aspect of it and for example many of our young girls aren’t even allowed to participate in artistic expression and artistic and cultural activities just because they are a girl Even when there is no freedom of creation it is a … it is an innate need for the artist to create and express himself We cannot ban an artist completely he will always try to create and express himself one way or another This is where artists must meet governments and public sector officials Safe spaces must be created by neutral interlocutors so that trust and confidence may be built between the two sides and so we may progress from sharing ideas to then tackling very hard issues such as censorship and freedom of expression There is a long road ahead of us, but I think we must make the first step now

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