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Preventing "Cultural Catastrophe" in the Pandemic | A Cultural Rights Approach

March 9, 2021

March 9, 2021
11am (EST) | 5pm (CET) | 8pm (PST)
Free event | Registration required
Closed captions, Spanish & Russian interpretation available

COVID-19 has been a cataclysm for cultural rights, threatening a global “cultural catastrophe” with severe, long-lasting consequences for human rights if effective action is not taken immediately. The new report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, to the Human Rights Council surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on cultures and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of cultures and cultural rights to advance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience in the pandemic and post-pandemic. 

In this virtual event, the Special Rapporteur will be joined by Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera, English actor, writer, and theatre director Simon Callow, Zimbabwean cultural expert and producer Daves Guzha, co-founding Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) Natalia Kaliada, and Executive Director of IFACCA Magdalena Moreno to consider these issues and address relevant recommendations for how to both better defend culture and cultural rights from the detrimental effects of the health crisis as well as levy culture to sustainability rebuild during and in the wake of the pandemic. Humanists International's Director of Advocacy Elizabeth O’Casey and Artists at Risk Connection's Director, Julie Trébault, will chair this event.

This public program is organized by ARC, Humanists International, and Freemuse.

About the Speakers

Karima Bennoune has served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights since 2015 and holds the Homer Angelo and Anny Berryhill Endowed Chair in International Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. Bennoune’s 2020 report as Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council, presented in March 2020, addressed the need for greater recognition of and support for cultural rights defenders. Her forthcoming report for the Council in 2021 focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cultural rights. A former legal advisor for Amnesty International, her field missions throughout her career have included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali, Malaysia, Maldives, Niger, Pakistan, Serbia and Kosovo, Southern Thailand, Tunisia and Tuvalu. She can be followed on Twitter: @UNSRCulture.

Tania Bruguera is an internationally noted performance and installation artist and activist from Cuba who engages political and social issues through her work. She has helped promote the term “artivism,” which blends art and political action to protest and raise awareness of injustices. Her work has been shown in major arts institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London. She has been arrested and jailed countless times throughout her career for her socially conscious artwork and activism, including, most recently, in January 2021. Besides her artistic practice, she runs INSTAR (Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt), a “hub for civic literacy” in Havana that aims to be a space for performance and the expression of ideas centered on rethinking policy and generating social change.

Simon Callow is an actor, writer, and theatre director best known for Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), A Room with a View (1985) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). Callow has appeared in countless productions, both on stage and screen. As a director and adapter, Callow has done everything from grand opera to one-man shows, and all the while he has conducted a literary career that would be sufficient in itself for most professional writers: it includes reviewing, biographies of Charles Laughton and Orson Welles, a revelatory account of the acting life, a memoir of his intense relationship with the great theatrical agent Peggy Ramsay, as well as guides to Shakespeare, film acting and Oscar Wilde's circle.

Daves Guzha is Chairman of the 5th Pan African Cultural Congress Bureau, a platform for Pan-African cultural institutions and civil society organizations working on the arts, culture and heritage field towards the African Union agenda. Daves is from Zimbabwe and has had a long career in the creative and cultural sectors as a producer and filmmaker.

Natalia Kaliada is the co-founding Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), an award-winning theatre-maker, writer and director. As an internationally renowned diplomat and human rights campaigner, Natalia has pioneered a unique method of transversal lobbying and campaigning, uniting artistic, geopolitical, environmental, and human rights concerns, to bring systematic change to different societies.

Magdalena Moreno became Executive Director of IFACCA in August 2017, having first joined the organization as Deputy Director in 2014. Prior to this she was Head of International Affairs at the National Council for Culture and the Arts, Chile (CNCA) and international advisor to three Ministers of Culture. In this role, she oversaw international arts and cultural strategy; served as Programme Director of the 6th World Summit on Arts and Culture (Santiago, 2014); delivered Chile’s participation in three Venice Biennales; served on the Board of Fundación Imagen de Chile; and represented CNCA on the IFACCA Board (2012-2014). She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne; is an alumna of the Asialink Leaders Program (2008) and the Australia Council for the Arts' Emerging Leaders Program (2010); has served on several Boards, including for Diversity Arts Australia (2016-2018); and is currently a member of the UNESCO’s Expert Facility Group 2019-2022 to support the implementation of the 2005 Convention. 

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