Freedom of artistic expression is a fundamental human right and an indicator of a healthy and free society. But artistic freedom is under assault: autocratic regimes fear artists because they express cultural identity, advance new ideas, promote dialogue, and bear witness to inhumanity.
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
— AMPLIFYING the stories and work of at-risk artists as well as raising visibility of the field of artistic freedom
Who we help
ARC serves artists of all disciplines as well as cultural professionals. Our definition of “artist” is inclusive, encompassing those who work across any creative field or medium, including visual artists, musicians, cartoonists, filmmakers, performance artists, dancers, writers, etc. Visual artists account for 62% of total requests for assistance. If you are an artist in need of urgent assistance, please visit our Find Help page or contact us.
What we do
Since its inception in 2017, ARC has assisted more than 500 individual artists and cultural professionals from over 63 countries by connecting them to a wide range of services, most frequently including emergency funds, legal assistance, temporary relocation programs, and fellowships. Thanks to a core network of over 70 partners, over 50% of them have already received direct support. If you are an organization seeking to join ARC’s database, please visit our Join ARC page.
Who we are
ARC is a project of PEN America. Standing at the intersection of literature and human rights, PEN America has been championing freedom of expression since 1922. It is the largest of more than 140 chapters of PEN International.
Shahidul Alam, Photographer, and Curator, Drik Gallery (Bangladesh)
Terry Anderson, Cartoonists Rights Network International (USA)
Isabelle Boittin, ProtectDefenders.eu (Belgium)
Khaled Barakeh, Visual artist, CoCulture (Germany)
Tania Bruguera, Installation and performance artist (Cuba)
Pierre Claver Mabiala, Arterial Network (Ivory Cost)
Sverre Pedersen, Freemuse (Denmark)
Natalia Kaliada, Belarus Free Theatre (Belarus)
Helge Lunde, International Cities of Refuge Network (Norway)
Romana Cacchioli, PEN International (UK)
Helena Nassif, Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Lebanon)
Henry Reese, City of Asylum (USA)
Alison Russo, Artist Protection Fund (USA)
Julie Trébault, Director
Julie is the director of the Artists at Risk Connection. Prior to joining PEN America, she served as director of public programs at the Museum of the City of New York and the Center for Architecture. Before moving to New York, she worked at the National Museum of Ethnology in The Netherlands where she built a network of 116 museums. From 2004 until 2007, she was Head of Higher Education and Academic Events at the Musée du quai Branly (Paris). Trébault holds a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from the Sorbonne University and a Master’s Degree in Archeology from the University of Strasbourg.
Rama Halaseh, Senior Manager for International Programs
Rama Halaseh is the Senior Manager for International Programs at the Artists at Risk Connection. She has a decade of experience working on civic engagement, freedom of expression, and cultural development across the Middle East and North Africa. While managing the Open Society Foundations (OSF)’s Media, Culture, and Ideas unit, Rama designed and implemented crisis response schemes supporting cultural organizations and artists at risk through participatory grant-making and donor collaboratives. Prior to joining OSF, Rama led IREX’s regional efforts during the war in Syria by providing holistic digital, physical and psychosocial safety training and emergency assistance to hundreds of journalists and citizen journalists. Most recently, Rama led the design and rollout of Meta’s regional social impact and digital literacy strategies with the mission of promoting effective and safe use of online platforms, particularly among vulnerable communities, refugees, and women. She holds a master's in Public Administration from Syracuse University and a master's in Diplomacy from the University of Malta.
Colleen Scribner, Senior Manager for Protection Programs
Colleen Scribner is the Senior Manager for Protection Programs at the Artists at Risk Connection. Before joining PEN America, she worked for nearly six years at Freedom House, rising from Senior Program Associate to Program Manager on the Emergency Assistance Program. From her time with Freedom House, she brings experience with designing and implementing global civil society protection and socio-political change programming, including rapid response grantmaking. Prior to Freedom House, she held roles at the Public International Law and Policy Group, Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. She was also the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy 2020 Human Rights Fellow, where she was selected as a rising foreign policy analyst to publish on pressing human rights topics. She holds an M.A. from American University’s School of International Service in Global Governance, Politics, and Security. She is based in Washington, D.C.
Manojna Yeluri, Asia Regional Representative
Manojna Yeluri is the Asia regional representative for the Artists at Risk Connection. She is an entertainment and intellectual property rights lawyer. She founded Artistik License, a legal and business consultancy for artists and creative professionals in 2013, and has been working closely with the independent arts and music industries since, with the opportunity to present at global trade events such as WOMEX and IOMMA. She holds a Masters Degree in Entertainment, media and intellectual property rights law from the UCLA School of Law, and graduated from the NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad, India with a BA.LLB (Hons) degree. She is currently based out of Hyderabad, India.
Alessandro Zagato, Latin America Regional Representative
Alessandro Zagato is the Latin America regional representative for the Artists at Risk Connection. Prior to PEN America, he worked as a researcher for a European Research Council project. He founded the “Research Group in Arts and Politics” (Grupo de Investigación en Arte y Politica - GIAP) and the associated “Casa Giap,” a residency center for international artists and researchers. He holds a PhD in Sociology from Maynooth University, Ireland and is the author of “After the Pink Tide. Corporate State Formation and New Egalitarianisms in Latin America” (Berghahn Books 2020) and “The Event of Charlie Hebdo: Imaginaries of Freedom and Control” (Berghahn Books 2015), among several other publications. He lives in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Chiapas, Mexico).
Jumana Al-Yasiri, Middle East Regional Representative
Jumana Al-Yasiri is the Representative of the Middle East at Artists at Risk Connection. For the past 20 years, she has designed and produced residencies, festivals, conferences, and artists support programs in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the United-States. Her areas of expertise span a wide palette of disciplines ranging from performing and visual arts, literature and film. Jumana held key positions Damascus Arab Capital of Culture 2008, the Young Arab Theatre Fund and Sundance Institute Theatre Program, where she supported the creation of new works through labs, residencies, grant programs and visibility actions. As an independent consultant and curator, Jumana frequently collaborates with regional and international organizations such D-CAF festival in Cairo, Ettijahat-Independent Culture in Beirut, the Flanders Arts Institute and Moussem Nomadic Arts Center in Brussels, Shubbak festival and Good Chance theatre in London, MED Culture Program… She is also a regular panelist, writer and translator. Her research and publications deal with art and migration, postcolonial discourses in the arts, and the international representation and working conditions of artists and cultural workers from the Arab region and the Global South. Former board member of the Roberto Cimetta Fund for Artistic Mobility in the Mediterranean, she’s also a member of the inaugural Fellows cohort of The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. Jumana holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Damascus Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University Paris VIII. Hailing from Syrian-Iraqi origins, she lives and works in Paris since 2010.
Oleksandra Yakubenko, Representative for Ukraine Protective Programs
Oleksandra Yakubenko is the Representative for Ukraine Protective Programs at the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), focusing on the development of the emergency fund for Ukrainian visual artists. She was previously the head of the international cooperation department of Ukrainian Cultural Foundation (UCF) since 2018, and was among other things, responsible for building partnerships, creating partner grant programs, building the international presence of the Foundation, and establishing diplomatic relations with embassies and governmental organizations. She organized the first official representation of the UCF at the International Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019, and took part in strategic sessions and work groups on policy development for CCI in Ukraine. She holds a Master’s degree in International Economy and has participated in student programs and events in Japan and USA.
Jessica Sun, Program Manager
Jessica Sun is the program manager for the Artists at Risk Connection. Previously, she was the interim executive assistant and board liaison at PEN America. Before joining PEN America, she was a research assistant for Dr. Ellen Chesler at the Roosevelt Institute, a communications intern for ARC, and an intern for the American Ballet Theatre. She is a Community Fellow at the Institute for Nonprofit Practice (INP) and was a 2018 Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) JSI Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and a Fulbright semi-finalist in 2020 for interdisciplinary research in Argentina. She holds a BA in Political Science and a certificate in Public Policy, focusing on international development and human rights, from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College.
Juliette Verlaque, Program Coordinator
Juliette Verlaque is the program coordinator for the Artists at Risk Connection. Previously, Verlaque was an intern with the ACLU’s communications team and PEN America’s U.S. Free Expression Programs, and most recently spent a year as a paralegal at Clayman & Rosenberg. She holds a BA in political science and human rights from Barnard College, where she wrote numerous front-page investigative stories as a senior staff writer for the Columbia Daily Spectator. She also studied abroad in Chile during her junior year and served as a research assistant for a critically acclaimed book on international peacebuilding during her senior year.
Jake Neuberger, Program Assistant
Jake Neuberger is the program assistant for the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America working closely on providing assistance to persecuted artists. He graduated from the George Washington University with a double major in Political Science and International Affairs and minors in Spanish and Sociocultural Anthropology. Before his role with ARC, Jake served as a research and international advocacy intern with AsiLegal, a civil society organization in Mexico City, focusing on marginalized communities and reform within the Mexican prison system. His experience also includes work concerning policy research and advocacy, database and archive management, graphic design, and more. He hopes to further serve communities at risk through direct service and research work and currently resides in Connecticut.
Andrea Villa Franco, Consultant
Andrea Villa Franco is a consultant for the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. She is a writer, editor, and researcher from Bogotá, Colombia. Prior to joining ARC, Andrea completed her master's studies as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar of the International Joint M.A. program LAGLOBE (Latin America and Europe in a Global World). Her own experiences of immigration to the United States as well as her subsequent international academic and professional trajectory across three continents has provided Andrea with an intercultural lens on issues of free expression and geopolitics. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University in Iberian and Latin Cultures, with a double minor in English and French.
Elias Ephron, Gap Year/Postgrad Fellow
Elias Ephron is the 2022-2023 Gap Year/Postgrad Fellow with the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. He is a senior at Bard College, majoring in political science and Spanish studies. In summer 2021, he interned at PEN America in the Free Expression and Education program, where he worked with fellow interns on the “Educational Gag Orders” report. In the summer of 2022, he was a Free Expression Leadership Fellow working with ARC. He has also recently worked as an office assistant at Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), and as a tutor in his college’s writing center. Having grown up among many artists and writers, he is passionate about creative expression at its intersection with human rights, and sees art for its broad potential as a means of political resistance. Aside from New York, he has lived in California, the UK, and Germany. In his free time he loves reading, writing poetry and short stories, learning languages, and cooking with friends.
ARC is supported by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.