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Featured Organization

International Arts Rights Advisors (IARA)

IARA's team (from right to left): Svetlana Mintcheva, Diana Ramarohetra, Laurence Cuny, Julia Farrington, Mary Ann DeVlieg, and Sara Whyatt.  

International Arts Rights Advisors (IARA) is a collective of arts and human rights experts who work to protect freedom of artistic expression and broader cultural rights. The advisers have extensive experience working with a vast array of local, national and international organizations, as well as with individual artists; collectively they offer an extensive body of knowledge, experience and networks in the field.

In Artistic Freedom of Expression is Not Luxury - a new video by UNESCO 2017), one IARA advisor said: “When artists are able to speak truth to power, are free to articulate difficult ideas, ideas that challenge orthodoxies, then you have a good democratic environment [for artistic freedom].” IARA advisors bring their skills and insight to ensure that artists are able to do just that. They support individuals and organizations committed to artistic freedom of expression by providing practical strategic and legal support, as well as by offering training, research, evaluation and reporting services.  

Artistic freedom is not a luxury. But the rights of artists are under threat worldwide. These include freedom of creation, freedom of movement, freedom of association, right to protection of economic and social rights, right to participate in cultural life. Discover interviews with key civil society actors engaged in this area.  

The core team at IARA consists of Laurence Cuny, Mary Ann DeVlieg, Julia Farrington, Diana Ramarohetra, Svetlana Mintcheva, and Sara Whyatt.

Laurence Cuny is a human rights lawyer with twenty years experience in representing human rights defenders and advocating for cultural rights and artistic freedom. She provides training, strategic direction setting, monitoring and evaluation services to the United Nations and European mechanisms as well as cultural and human rights civil society organisations. In 2012, she co-founded an artists’ residency program in France. She is a member of the French Observatoire de la liberté de la création and the European platform Arts Rights Justice.

Mary DeVlieg is a recipient of the 2006 EU Individual Prize to services to artists mobility, has worked extensively in the field, founded Arts Rights Justice, and co-founded Artsfex. She is also currently a Board member of Highlight Arts UK and Advisor to Ettijahat Independent Culture, Lebanon.

Julia Farrington is a freelance arts producer specializing on promoting artistic freedom in UK and internationally. She runs an ongoing project for the UK based free speech monitoring organization Index on Censorship tackling censorship of artistic expression in the UK, in particular addressing a recent trend, where police have been involved in removal or cancellation of controversial artwork. She has worked with artists in countries hostile to freedom of expression, including Myanmar and Ethiopia, was head of campaigns with Belarus Free Theatre for two years and is currently working with London based Somali Week Festival. 

“When artists are able to speak truth to power, are free to articulate difficult ideas, ideas that challenge orthodoxies, then you have a good democratic environment [for artistic freedom].”

Diana Ramarohetra is consultant, journalist and facilitator in the field of arts and culture. She has been in charge of Artwatch Africa, at Arterial Network, which aims to defend and protect Artist Rights within Africa. She is a facilitator in Human Rights, Cultural Rights and Artist Rights and worked in 19 countries within the continent. Before joining Arterial Network, she worked as cultural journalist and has conducted different artistic projects, from video to music production, in her home country, Madagascar. From 2009 to 2013, she worked in Rwanda with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Rwanda Development Board and then the Institut français in Rwanda as its Secretary General.

Svetlana Mintcheva is a writer, academic, and free-speech activist. She developed Arts Advocacy Program at the U.S. based National Coalition Against Censorship, the only U.S. national initiative devoted to the arts and free expression. Her latest project is to provide curators and museum directors with advice as to how to prepare for and handle controversy: the initiative has produced a set of guidelines, held workshops and is publishing a white paper on handling controversy in 2018. Svetlana serves as an advisory member of Artists at Risk Connection and as a board member of Artsfex. She is also the editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression and the forthcoming Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity.

Sara Whyatt is a researcher, consultant, and campaigner on artistic freedom of expression, having served as a director at PEN International from 1990 until 2013 when she took up freelance consultancy. Since then she has worked with organisations including Article 19, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Freemuse, Culture Action Europe, and PEN International. In December 2018 UNESCO’s Global Report on the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Culture was published. Sara contributed its chapter on the promoting the right to freedom to imagine and create and continues to work with UNESCO in developing its program on artistic freedom.

IARA recently launched an online survey that seeks to better understand how artists are dissuaded from their work due to intimidation, trolling, harassment and bullying online. Please help them understand the nature and scale of these threats and artists' reaction to them by filling out this survey. The deadline is on March 31, 2018.

Mary Ann DeVlieg and Svetlana Mintcheva are part of the Artists at Risk Connection Advisory Committee

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