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 (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 Coast)
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.
Omaid Sharifi, Senior Manager for Protection Programs
Omaid Sharifi is a recognized artivist and the esteemed co-founder of ArtLords. His impressive resume includes a fellowship at Harvard University, board positions at CIVICUS and the Atlantic Council’s Millennium Leadership Fellowship Alumni, as well as the prestigious Global Pluralism Award, among other recognitions. With a career spanning over 19 years, Omaid has consistently demonstrated his expertise in conceptualizing, designing, and executing projects in Afghanistan, South Asia, and various global regions. His extensive grantmaking experience, including managing multi-million dollar projects for organizations like the British Council and USAID, is a testament to his dedication to supporting individual artists.
Manojna Yeluri, Asia Regional Representative
Manojna Yeluri is a lawyer specializing in artist rights, entertainment, and intellectual property rights. Additionally, Manojna is the founder of Artistik License, a legal consultancy catering to independent artists and creative practitioners. She is also a co-founder of the initiative "Contracts for Creators." Manojna holds a law degree from the NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad, India. She furthered her legal education by obtaining a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Entertainment, Media, and Intellectual Property Rights Law from the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, USA. Manojna has co-authored notable publications, including "Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia." and "Connecting the Dots: Artist Protection & Artistic Freedom in Asia," reports published by ARC in collaboration with the Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).
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).
Oleksandra Yakubenko, Regional Representative for Ukraine
Oleksandra Yakubenko is the Regional Representative for Ukraine 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.
Sam Brakarsh, Africa Regional Representative
Sam Brakarsh is the Africa Regional Representative for the Artists at Risk Connection. He is from Zimbabwe where he co-founded the Chikukwa Research Trust and Culture Centre and previously worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Sam is a Theatre of The Oppressed (ToTO) practitioner, having conducted trainings across Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, the United States, the Philippines, and Ramallah. He currently sits on the Mind and Life Institute’s Young Adult Advisory Council and is a published short story writer, poet, actor, and proud high school drama teacher. He has been awarded the Dalai Lama Fellowship, ORISHA Fellowship, and Howland Fellowship for his work and research. Sam holds a BA in Social Psychology and Global Health from Yale University and an MSc in African Studies from Oxford University. He currently lives between Harare and New Jersey.
Jake Neuberger, Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean
Jake Neuberger is the program coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean 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.
Emma Reynolds, Coordinator for Protection Programs
Emma joined Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) after completing a degree in International Emergency and Disaster Management from Georgetown University, where she researched the impact of climate change on refugee resettlement and hosting capacity in low- and middle-income countries. She was drawn to ARC after spending six years at Columbia University’s Sexual Violence Response center, supporting survivors of gender-based violence and providing violence prevention education. Her career initially focused on writing and the arts, as she earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia and an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. The Artists at Risk Connection program affords her a unique opportunity to merge these early interests with an ongoing commitment to crisis work and international emergency response and support. She resides full-time in New York City.
Valentine Sargent, Communications and Editorial Assistant
Valentine Sargent is the Communications and Editorial Assistant for the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and has a history of working with international companies in the editing, publishing, and journalism sectors. She holds an MFA from Chatham University where she studied creative writing and was awarded The Fourth River Editorial Fellowship. As a fiction writer, her work has been published in various literary magazines. She is based in New York City.
Rose Bialer, 2023-2024 Gap Year Fellow
Rose Bialer is the 2023-2024 Gap Year/Postgrad Fellow with the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. She is a recent graduate of Trinity College Dublin where she completed a MPhil. in Comparative Literature. While studying, Rose was the Centenary Intern at ARC and focused on the organization’s international programming, assisting with coordination meetings on freedom of artistic expression in Ukraine and Afghanistan. Rose previously worked as an English Language Assistant in Madrid, Spain. She holds a B.A. from Kenyon College in Sociology and Spanish.
Lucia Rodes, Fall 2023 Free Expression Leadership Fellow
Lucia Rodes is a Fall 2023 Free Expression Leadership Fellow on the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) team. She recently graduated from Barnard College, earning a double BA in Political Science and Human Rights. Before joining PEN America, Rodes was involved in research and advocacy work defending migrant rights, including her work with organizations like Justice in Motion and Fundacion por Causa.