Free to Create: Report on Artistic Freedom in Europe

Council of Europe,
15 February 2023, France

Free to Create: Artistic Freedom in Europe is the report published today by the Council of Europe on the challenges that European artists and cultural workers face in the practice of their right to freedom of artistic expression. These range from laws that curtail creative freedom, attacks from non-governmental groups and online threats to the “under-the-radar” pressures that contribute to self-censorship. Artistic freedom is a core human right requiring protection and it has worsened recently under multiple challenges – political extremism, economic collapse, a global pandemic, threats from digitisation, an emerging environmental catastrophe, and the return of war within Europe – all crises with major impacts on human rights across society.

This comprehensive overview reflects the work carried out by the Council of Europe, other international intergovernmental organisations promoting freedom of expression and human rights, and non-governmental, civil society and cultural organisations concerned with artists’ and cultural rights, as well as the experiences and perspectives of artists. It concludes with recommendations on what can be done to protect artistic freedom, by international institutions and by the cultural sector and artists themselves.

Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić stated: “With democracy under great pressure, the key role of arts and culture as powerful means for maintaining constructive dialogue in democratic, diverse and open societies becomes ever more evident. The right to freedom of artistic expression is a key to this and ensures the pluralism and vitality of the democratic process.”