Why artsfex?

Bringing together a wide range of stakeholders who have an interest in protecting art and artists’ rights, a Copenhagen summit in 2011 explored the options for establishing a global network for the protection and advocacy of artistic freedom of expression.

On October 27th, 2012, representatives of key international and regional arts and human rights organisations will gather in Oslo, Norway, to formally launch artsfex as such a global network.

The summit in Copenhagen on 9-11 December 2011, organised by Freemuse and Danish PEN, and funded by the Danish Ministry of Culture, explored options for establishing a global network for the protection and advocacy of artistic freedom of expression – composed of national and international artists’ organisations, networks, and freedom of expression organisations.

When the international community places emphasis on the protection of freedom of speech, it generally focuses on the freedom of media and literature. International human rights organisations include repression of media and media professionals in their annual and country reports on freedom of expression. However they rarely document repression of artists or cultural workers.

Artistic expression is under pressure from many sides and it is frequently in the centre of conflicts between different interest groups.

When journalists and media organisations worldwide advocate freedom of speech this is often backed with significant financial support from donors and institutions in the Western world. The media organisations are organised well, notably through IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (www.ifex.org), which has more than 80 international, regional and local organisations as members.

But there are only two international organisations in the world which specifically promote and defend artistic freedom of expression and document global attacks on artists, respectively writers’ (International PEN) and music creators’ (Freemuse) rights to free expression.

These two organisations have developed large international networks and wish to explore the possibility of extending their work, expertise and research towards suppression of artistic expression.

The 2011 Copenhagen summit on artistic freedom of expression examined the capacities and interests of the participating organisations in reference to incorporating the defence of artistic freedom in their daily work – and discussed the prerequisites for establishing the artsfex network.


A vision paper for artsfex has been drafted:
• in English: Vision, Aims and Activities of artsfex
• in French: Visions, buts et activités d’artsfex
• in Spanish Visión, metas y actividades de artsfex
• in Russian: видение, цели и деятельность artsfex