New agreement with Sida strengthens artistic freedom

Swedish Arts Council,
18 June 2024, Sweden

The Swedish Arts Council and Sida have signed an agreement on a second programming period 2024–2027 to strengthen and protect artistic freedom globally. The programme distributes money to international organisations that work to protect and promote artistic freedom.

"At a time when democracy is in decline, it is particularly important that artists and cultural actors can work without the risk of threats and reprisals. The fact that we can continue our collaboration with Sida means that more artists' lives, freedom and opportunities to express themselves are protected around the world," says Kajsa Ravin, Director General of the Swedish Arts Council.

Freedom of expression and artistic freedom are prerequisites for democratic and resilient societies. Today, artistic freedom in many countries is under increasing threat. Artists and practitioners in culture are often particularly vulnerable when democracy is challenged. That is why the Swedish Arts Council works to strengthen artistic freedom internationally, including within the government's mandate to promote cities of refuge in Sweden and as a national contact point for UNESCO's 2005 Convention, which collaborates with the Programme for Artistic Freedom.

Today, the Artistic Freedom Programme has 11 partner organisations that work in various ways to promote artistic freedom globally. They strengthen and protect the opportunities for artists and cultural actors to express themselves freely. The organizations drive change processes, offer physical, financial and legal support to artists in vulnerability, and document and disseminate information and knowledge.

The first programming period between 2020 and spring 2024, which is also funded by Sida, has yielded good results. In 2022, 117 artists from the Global South were granted sanctuary, over 30 legal cases involving artists were handled by human rights lawyers, one case involving an artist was heard by the European Court of Human Rights and over 600 cases of censorship, violations and harassment against artists were documented within the programme.