Advocacy work on the European political level
Res Artis has been voted onto the Board of Culture Action Europe in October 2013 in order to represent the issues of the artist residency field, and our membership specifically.
The residency field has diversified a lot within the past ten years. Residencies not only connect the most advanced with the least represented areas in the world based on the principle of hospitality and trust, they also test alternative economic models in order for their organizations to sustain and to grow. Residencies host refugee artists and exiled cultural professionals, and more and more often create occupation and opportunities for their local communities to sustain in economically and politically difficult climates.
The experiences, worries and concerns of the residency field are not yet adequately represented on the policy, program or strategic level of the EU, this includes the Human Right to move freely, the visa code, and working rights for international cultural professionals, and more. We want to change that.
Res Artis is dedicating time and efforts in order to support the mission of Culture Action Europe to influence policy writing on the EU level for cultural organizations and their constituencies in Europe and beyond.
Additionally, CAE has adopted a very exciting 5 year strategic plan reacting to the transitional times we live in.
Our linear world view has come to an end; the shared prosperity and welfare as the two pillars we were told it was built on no longer exist. The argument that we need to shrink the resources that go to the public sphere in order to restore the financial base and finally our societies, is dangerous propaganda. This money has been dramatically cut already, badly affecting welfare, justice, human rights, public space and services, environmental care, rights to culture, education for all, and more.
CAE is lobbying for a cultural sector that remembers the role culture plays for social development. Always has played and crucially plays again now in our times of transition. Culture must be acknowledged in all policy making decisions, programs and strategies on the EU level (Europe 2020 does not do that yet!), and beyond, and be integrated in every project on the private sector as well. Res Artis fully supports this powerful message to also work cross-sectorial in order to invest in a common future.
Also see ”Notes from the field”.
Visa & Mobility
The right to move freely
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948) all people are entitled to the recognition of inherent dignity and certain inalienable rights, which are the "foundations of freedom and justice in the world." Freedom of movement is part of the "liberty of man" thus making it one of the most basic human rights. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.”
The right to free movement or the denial of it, within national and international borders can have profound effects upon other basic human rights also outlined in the UDHR and other treaties. Without the right to leave one’s home and the right to return to it, a cultural worker may be politically repressed, prevented from observing his or her chosen belief, prevented from enjoying the basic right to marriage or family life, or blocked from a job or an education that ultimately could enhance his or her quality of life. While free movement may seem on the surface to be a fairly minor and obvious human right, it actually is one of the most basic rights that in many nations around the world is undercut and compromised.
For residency organisations, the guaranteed protection of the full human rights of their residents, as well as their own rights, informs the fundament of their work. This makes it for us a central matter of concern that we want our members to be well-informed about, to create opportunities to help each other, and to advocate for them on governmental and non-governmental policy making platforms.
Visa & Mobility
Today, the work of artists and cultural workers is still considered untraditional and precarious within the context of transnational movement.
Problems mainly arise from a set of features: frequent travelling, short notice (and difficulties in preparing the applications in advance so as to have a response on time), precarious working conditions and irregular and/or low revenues, which make it difficult to comply with the ‘proof of financial means’ required for the applications as part of the risk assessment procedure.
Very often all of these categories apply to the potential residents, as well as they can apply to the residency organisers themselves. In many cases, the support given to the artists by residency organisations is vital to smoothen the visa application procedure, especially in situations where the artists cannot personally travel to the Embassy, Consulate or agency dealing with their application. In some cases, the Embassy concerned is located in another country itself, and to get there already involves a visa application process.
Making an impact: Structured Dialog on EU level
Res Artis is involved in advocacy activities on the EU level. We participate in the international ‘Arts, Human Rights, Social Justice’ Working Group (ARJ WG) at the ‘Access to Culture Platform’ (ACP) 2011-13. The Access to Culture Platform is a civil society group that was initiated by the European Commission to make recommendations to the EU on how to ensure and improve access to all aspects of the artistic value chain (from creation and production to diffusion) for all of the peoples in Europe, to ensure access to Europe, and to ensure the diversity of cultural expressions. The mandate began of the EC to write policy recommendations began in 2008, and has ended a few years back. The Platform is now organized as a vertically ‘structured dialogue’ platform, Structured dialogue describes the mechanism for cooperation in the field of European cultural policy that involves public bodies and the culture sector.
The ‘Arts, Social Justice, Human Rights’ Working Group concentrates on five themes:
- Working prospects for exiled art and cultural workers
- Mobility/visas for incoming art and cultural workers
- Commissioning Research
- Policy Recommendations
- Improving Funding programs
Res Artis is the only organisation representing a network that consists of cultural workers instead of artists.
We participate in this group in order to make sure that our members receive all the information they need regarding visa and mobility issues, as we let them flow in our ResSupport Handbook and communicate them on our website, and to makes sure that we offer all the help we can to our members.
Thirdly, we don’t want to just stand by and watch but support those who are active in amending the visa code and mobility law, and contribute our insights and information we gain through our membership in order to find adequate solutions for immanent challenges.
It is crucial for this sort of work to know exactly where the visa process is painful to you in order to offer transparency to the political level and to recommend policy adjustment in an unambiguous and effective manner. Therefore, please, let us know about your needs, and participate in our upcoming survey. Following this link you can read more about the ACP structure and its goals www.access-to-culture.eu/
Another Role of Residencies: Safe haven
Connected to the ACP work, we learn a lot about the vital role of artists residencies within the context of art and human rights.
Cultural workers are early targets; where artists and cultural workers are threatened to lose their human right of expression, or participation in cultural life, it is a sign that as State has in general withdrawn from its obligation to secure conditions under which artists and creators can live and thrive (art. 19,22,27 (2) UDHR). It mostly means that other human and civil rights are endangered as well.
An increasing number of artists and cultural professionals from Europe, and beyond, have to flee their country due to human rights violations to the extent that they are in need of temporary or permanent re-location.
These cultural workers need not only the crucial local and international connections to leave their home but also a place to stay abroad or in their own country, sometimes only for a few days, sometimes for a longer period of time, to recover and create a sustainable situation for themselves.
A residency place in the cultural world can save artists (and their families) from a life in psychological and physical distress and political and social repression, and the risk to be silenced or eliminated.
ICORN Sweden is closely monitoring the residencies that create safe havens for persecuted artists, and has contributed to an EC report called: Mapping of temporary shelter initiatives for Human Rights Defenders in danger in and outside the EU, 2012. www.icorn.org
• freeDimensional (fD) has devised a collaborative approach that builds partnerships between arts residencies and human rights organizations worldwide to provide a wide variety of Distress Services to those in need including Creative Safe Haven. The Creative Safe Haven initiative brings about a ground-breaking idea: using surplus bedrooms of artist residency programs to counter the accommodation dilemma faced by the human rights community who know, and are connected to, oppressed activists in need of a safe place to live when fleeing danger.
• The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response.
By providing a Guest Writer with a safe place to stay and economic security for a standard term of two years, ICORN cities make an important, practical contribution to the promotion of Freedom of Expression.
• The Committee to Protect Journalists: The Journalist Assistance program helps journalists through a combination of financial and non-financial assistance. CPJ maintains a small distress fund through which it dispenses emergency grants to journalists. The program also raises funds for journalists from outside sources and collaborates with other freedom of expression organizations. When necessary, CPJ lobbies governments or international agencies to help secure refugee or asylum status for journalists. We provide logistical support to journalists when they resettle in exile. CPJ also refers journalists to resources, including information on grants, fellowships, and awards.
The objectives of Freemuse are to document violations and discuss their effects on music life, inform media, human rights organisations and the public, support musicians in need and observe at their trials, develop a global network in support of threatened musicians and composers.
Pen is promoting Literature and defending Freedom of Expression. They collaborate with human rights organisations to support repressed and exiled writers in various ways.
• Front Line Defenders
Front Line Defenders was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Front Line Defenders aims to address the protection needs identified by defenders themselves.
Front Line Defenders seeks to provide rapid and practical support to at-risk human rights defenders.
At this moment in time, Res Artis is not giving direct legal advice, nor do we offer one-on-one consultancy services. We solely support our members through knowledge transfer from other sources through our website and newsletters. We strongly foster member-on-member exchange through social media and live events like our General, Regional and Thematic meetings. We also hope to hear back from you all a lot to collect your experiences, tricks and questions to connect them back to the membership for everyone to learn fast and the easy, economical way.
Unfortunately, Res Artis is unable to provide legally binding information; the complexity of these issues makes it necessary to consult with information providing authorities and (legal) advisors in complicated individual cases.
The list below entails links to organizations that give direct advice, provide checklists and valuable guidance. We gladly help you connecting with them. You are also best advised to find a legal partner in your own country, as every case is different, as well as every national Embassy demands different actions. Try to find a lawyer who is specialized in culture and the arts, and maybe works pro bono (who takes on legal court cases for free, or assists with legal advice for free) for your field.
If you know such great people and institutions in your country, please let us know, so we can add them in the ResSupport Handbook, and mention them in a list here.
We advocate through our activities
• We connect policy with practice – through our global network of artist residencies we advocate the importance of transparent, reliable and timely visa procedures for cultural workers that routinely need to leave and re-enter their home country in order to do their important work for the development of their organisations and their communities, and that, in some cases, depend on emergency visas for their exile / refugee residents. We attempt to monitor and document this reality.
• We support Emerging Member residencies from underrepresented countries in wider Europe, and in other parts of the world, with travel stipends and secondary documents to heighten their chances in the visa process when they want to attend our Meetings; we try to make sure non-members from under-represented countries can attend our events.
• Through our recent Res Artis Assessment Project we scrutinize the role of artist residencies for cultural understanding and social sustainability, both of which depend highly on the free movement of cultural workers in and out of their home countries to other parts of the world.
• Our ResSupport Fellowship program invites emerging residency organisations to learn abroad from more established organisations. We’re hoping to make it possible for organizers from underrepresented countries to leave and return to their home in the context of this great opportunity. We also believe that the wider insights gained through this fellowship creates the chance for these fellows to play a role in the policy writing or amending process at home.
• Res Artis believes that it is crucial to cement, nurture and push for the value of human rights and diversity through culture as a fundamental basis for better understanding throughout wider Europe, and the world, and that the global residency field plays a major role for intercultural exchange.
In order to reach these goals, Res Artis is represented at the Access to Culture Platform (ACP) of the European Commission, in the working group, Arts, Human Rights, Social Justice (ARJ), and the Executive Committee of Culture Action Europe, the Political Platform for Arts and Culture.
Engagements: past and present
· We are very much dedicated to learning about issues with the current visa code. We call out to you to please send us your stories or experiences about complications you have experienced in a brief note or email summary. These few minutes of your time, will help us greatly to represent you at the high profile platforms we are working at, the Access to Culture Platform at the European Commission, and Culture Action Europe, the Political Platform for Arts and Culture. It is as crucial whether you come from within wider Europe, or another continent. The world doesn’t end at the borders of Europe, and the interplay with other states and continents must be monitored continuously. International movement is a human right and a crucial precondition for our members’ daily work.
The information collected will also allow us to provide trusted partners in the public and private sector with vital information to further support our network, and influence and advice policy writing where possible in order to make your work more easy and transparent.
All your insights, stories and report will be uploaded to this webpage to inspire other co-members to find solutions for their struggles, and to create a feedback loop that can be enforced through Facebook, email and our newsletters. Other information will flow into the ResSupport Handbook, to inspire our members among themselves, to learn from someone else’s experience and tricks. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org
· The ARJ WG supports the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, in her efforts to make more visible that artist are not able to exercise their full human rights in, and outside the EU. Ms. Shaheed wrote an excellent report that was presented at a meeting in October 2013 before representatives of the EU Parliament and other political bodies in order to intensify the reports effect. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the central premise of the ARJ working group, to gain useful allies for the medium and longer term perspective to influence policy writing on the EU level, and to highlight that the abuse of artists’ human rights is an indicator of a dangerous lack of respect for human rights in society at large. Read the report here.
If you are a university with a residency program:
• Scholars at Risk
SAR invites Network member universities and colleges to help threatened scholars by hosting them during temporary visits as professors, researchers, and lecturers, visiting scholars, post-docs, graduate fellows or students.
If your residency is located in Africa, this helps you to move within the continent:
• Art Moves Africa
Art Moves Africa (AMA) is an international not for profit organisation aiming to facilitate cultural and artistic exchanges within the African continent. AMA offers travel funds to artists, arts professionals and cultural operators living and working in Africa to travel within the African continent in order to engage in the exchange of information, the enhancement of skills, the development of informal networks and the pursuit of cooperation.
• Fractured Atlas
Getting a visa to work as an artist in the United States is a time-consuming and frustrating process. As part of this lengthy process, artists applying for these visas often need letters of consultation/no objection that vouch for their artistic excellence. These can be hard to get if you're not already in a union or other professional association (and sometimes even if you are). Fractured Atlas can help, but they are not lawyers.
• Artists from Abroad
Exhaustive site for visa applications for foreign artists coming to the US
Share your resources
Share a link and useful information with us! Send us an email at email@example.com with information that can be included in this section or shared within our social media channels.
We need to hear your voice
Contact for questions regarding visa & mobility activities, and to send reports on best practices and other stories, or useful links to share: firstname.lastname@example.org