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Artists take risks for all of us. Explore a global network that’s ready to help.

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UPDATE REGARDING COVID-19: Please note that the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) is not a grantmaking program and is unable to assist artists financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, because we recognize the growing effect that the pandemic is having on artists, we have compiled a growing list of resources for artists affected by COVID-19 and hope that you may find assistance there. Please refer to the "Stories" page to find the list. If you are an artist or cultural practitioner otherwise at risk because of your creative practice, please follow the directions below to contact us.

Please fill out the form to get in touch with us. Submissions are encrypted and ARC understands that your communications are confidential. ARC does not provide direct services, but we will do our best to refer you to organizations that do. You can also find help by exploring our network of resources.

Your message is end-to-end encrypted and will be marked as urgent. You have the option to write this message in Arabic, English, French, Mandarin, Russian or Spanish. Expect a reply within 72 hours.

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Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network

Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network* was established to:

  • help provide rapid responses to artists at risk in Africa,
  • coordinate adequate support when artists and cultural professionals in Africa face danger because of their work, and,
  • support regional safe havens in Africa.

Across the region, we are seeing a rise in restrictions on freedom of expression. As authoritarian regimes crackdown on dissent, artists and creatives are bearing the brunt of the pressure, finding themselves at risk of threats, harassment, arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even death because of their creative work.

While many organizations operate nationally, regionally, and internationally with mandates focused on artistic freedom and protecting artists at risk in Africa, a lack of clear communication between those organizations often causes assistance work to be duplicated and precludes artists from receiving adequate support in time.

What we do

Modeled off of the Journalists in Distress (JID) network, Amani brings together organizations from across Africa and the globe, helping to streamline communication, share expertise and insights, pool resources, monitor threats to artistic freedom and creative professionals, and coordinate more effective responses when assisting artists at risk. This will be achieved through the creation of a new communication mechanism that will allow like-minded member organizations to work in concert and more easily coordinate joint efforts when assisting artists at risk. 

When an artist in distress contacts one organization in the Amani network, that organization will be able to contact the rest of the network via a pre-established secure channel in order to ask questions such as: Has anyone heard of this artist? Has anyone helped this artist already? What support can we offer this artist by pooling our resources?

How to get help

If you are an artist at risk, in Africa or elsewhere, please fill out our secure form here, which is available in English and French. You can also contact us via email at arc@pen.org. You will then be asked to provide information about your circumstances, which will be treated in confidence and shared only through end-to-end encrypted platforms. ARC will then facilitate the activation of the network in order to provide the best response based on your needs.

The partners

The current organizational members of the network include:

Africa Human Rights Network (AHRN) - AHRN facilitates, through various activities, the promotion, protection, and capacity building of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Africa. To protect human rights defenders and artists at risk, AHRN has established two regional temporary relocation programs (shelter cities) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Cotonou, Benin. Until December 2019, the AHRN has offered a temporary shelter to more than 100 HRDs and artists. See AHRN's profile on ARC here.

Alert-Art-Afrik - Triple A is responsible for monitoring and highlighting African artists and other activists engaged in the defense of human rights. Our mission is also to support them in their activities through training and capacity building. Triple A's vision is to create a world where freedom of expression, human rights, and the protection of vulnerable minorities are respected by all.

Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy) is a regional, non-profit organization founded in 2003 that seeks to support artistic creativity in the Arab region and to encourage cultural exchange within the region and beyond. The work of Culture Resource is based on an appreciation of the value of the diverse cultural heritage within the Arab region, and a belief in the critical role of culture in the development of civil society, the importance of access to culture for all, and the rights of artists to freedom of expression. Their activities include support for independent artists to create new work and to travel and tour these works, capacity building and training programs and publications in Arabic aimed at developing cultural managers and organizations, cultural policy research, support for artists at risk, and supporting the sustainability of cultural industries in the region, without undermining the value of culture as a public good and a basic human right.

Arterial Network - Arterial Network is a dynamic Pan-African, civil-society network of artists, cultural activists, entrepreneurs, enterprises, NGOs, institutions, and donors active in Africa’s creative and cultural sectors. Established as a member-based nonprofit organization, Arterial Network operates all across the continent in both English and French and is led by an elected steering committee that represents the five regions of the continent. Read more about Arterial network in ARC's profile here.

Artists at Risk Connection of PEN America - ARC safeguards the right to artistic freedom and works to ensure that artists everywhere can live and work without fear. We strive to connect artists persecuted for their work to a global network of organizations that can support them.

Freemuse - Freemuse is an independent international membership organisation advocating for and defending artistic freedom of expression. It documents and monitors violations on artistic freedom globally, through original reporting, 24/7 media monitoring and via their extended network, culminating in an annual report, framing the worldwide landscape of violations against artists. See Freemuse's profile on ARC here.

Hammerl Arts Rights Transfer (HART) - HART is a fully-funded Fellowship in recognition of excellence in human and creative rights, offering a 6-month or 12-month residency in Johannesburg.

PEN Uganda - PEN Uganda, a center of PEN International holds monthly literary meetings for members, has created school clubs and organized mentoring seminars in schools. Since 2015, the Centre has run an incredibly impactful project called 'Harnessing Rare Voices'; running creative writing workshops with prisoners. The Centre is also involved in promoting writing in local languages among writers since the government introduced expanded the teaching of local languages in schools, as well as doing public engagement and advocacy around the repeal of criminal defamation.

Safe Havens & Freedom Talks (SH&FT) - The annual Safe Havens conference has its starting point in a human rights perspective and aims to be a meeting place for human rights defenders within the arts and academia as a way to make visible cultural operators. Freedom Talks is a streamed programming initiative “broadcasted” from different parts of the world and by/with organizations in the network; recently installments have included Freedom Talks@ArtsEquator and Freedom Talks@Uyghur PEN. All initiatives in the SH&FT concept are inclusive and as always serve the Safe Havens network, specifically prioritizing the artists and small NGO's worldwide.

Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) - Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) is the regional human rights defenders (HRD) network composed of representatives from human rights organizations in ten countries in Southern Africa. It was established in February 2013 with the primary mandate to coordinate the protection and security of HRDs in the region and to enhance their ability to work in their particular countries, in the face of state-driven or supported repression. At the heart of SAHRDN’s approach is a strategic focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized W/HRDs, operating mostly in remote communities, who are unaware of protection mechanisms available and are often left behind, suffering. See SAHRDN's profile on ARC here.

* “Amani” means “peace” in Kiswahili, “strength” in Lhukonzo, and “hope” in Arabic. “Defence” is spelled in British English in accordance with common practice in Africa.

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