Safe Havens

Our new programming series Safe Havens — Freedom Talks series is closely connected to the annual global Safe Havens conference which we have organized in Malmö since 2013, and in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019. The Freedom Talks series will once a month focus on issues regarding threats towards artistic freedom, free press and intangible heritage. Guests in the Freedom Talks series are highly knowledgeable and prolific actors in the global Arts Rights Justice sector fighting for artistic freedom. You will be able to watch live-streamed versions of the talks through our website and social media channels, eventually opening up to an audience and on-site participants when the Covid-19 risks and restrictions are over. Keep your eyes open in our channels for updates. The talks will be in—or translated to English.

Read more and watch the live stream from Safe Havens – Freedom Talks@ArtsEquator September 25 here. 


(Workshops | 10-13 November 2020 / Round table | 3 December 2020)

Safe Havens is a once-a-year conference opportunity where arts and human rights activists share and use their experience. It continues virtually this year under the title of Safe Havens Global Stream. Prioritizing artists, smaller organizations and individuals working on the ground to support artists, journalists and writers at risk, phase one of the conference takes place between 10 and 13 November 2020. Starting on Tuesday, November 10 with a virtual social event, three afternoons of international discussion and exchange follow, using a partially open space type format that we are calling ‘Hives’.

This year, the conference is based on two foundational principles as elaborated in 2018 by Safe Havens participants and Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights. First, it was a call to this ‘emerging sector’ combining arts and free expression, from international NGOs to local initiatives, to collaborate strategically and effectively. At the same time, the sector should prioritize people and initiatives working on the ground, wherever they are, to ensure they have greater voice and visibility.

Safe Havens Global Stream 2020 includes five, one-hour long ‘Main Hives’ animated by inspirational activists discussing a broad, currently crucial theme. Participants will be invited to propose ‘Sub Hives’ that follow in smaller break-out groups, on specific themes, languages or issues, linked to the main topic. Main Hives will be accessible to the conference participants. Details of the updated programme are given below.

A report of the November conference will be discussed in a one-day webinar including the artistic interventions curated by Safemuse on Thursday, December 3 for international NGOs, institutions, policymakers and funders. Reacting to the recommendations from Safe Havens in November, they will respond regarding their collective vision for the way forward. Details of this event will be announced soon. 

Started in 2013, the Safe Havens conference has been a place for the many different artists and practitioners in the cultural and free expression sectors, as well as international NGOs, agencies, policy makers and funders. Aiming to view the full landscape of global protection, promotion and advocacy of censored and threatened artists, writers, journalists and academics, as well as to assess the risks and the challenges for cultural workers globally – and to find where and how their initiatives can best be of use, the Safe Havens conference will remain an open forum to discuss questions such as: “How can we, as representatives of global or regional networks, come together? How can we use our knowledge and expertise in defending those comrades who are in precarious situations because of war and unrest? What more can be done? Can we mobilize and reach further to have a stronger impact globally?” and find solutions together.

Fredrik Elg, initiator of the conference, said: “We are artists, writers, musicians, activists and administrators from all over the world. We are in this together. And, the Safe Havens conference is the place where we come together. The conference is not a step towards establishing a new formal network, it is an open forum for all of us who see a point in meeting, interacting and sharing with new and old friends in order to learn from each other. It is a cosmopolitan space – a platform – where new collaborations take shape.”

Download more info, programme and participants here. 

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