Archive for the ‘grantees’ Category

Malaysia: Cartoon Rights Network statement against banning of Zunar’s political cartoons

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

For the last 10 years the government of Malaysia has been seeking to silence one of the more popular political cartoonists in Kuala Lumpur: Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar. In the past two years he has been arrested and detained, his office has been raided, his cartoons books have been seized, and his publishers and editors have been prevented from publishing his cartoons. Zunar recently took the government to court appealing last year’s decision to ban his books. On 14 July 2011, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur decided to uphold last year’s banning of his political cartoon books and dismissed his appeal.

“Perak Darul Kartun” and “1 Funny Malaysia”, which featured more than 150 individual cartoons, were initially banned by the Malaysian government in June of 2010 under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984. Without elaborating, the judge held, “their contents are not suitable and are detrimental to public order”. Cartoon Rights Network International (CRNI) believes nothing could be further from the truth. These two books focus the public’s attention on important political and social issues such as conspiracies against the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu and the ‘submarine scandal’ involving allegations of a kick-back scheme for government’s purchase of a submarine that couldn’t dive. During a telephone interview with Mr. Zunar, he told CRNI, “Suppression of speech is a much graver threat to public order than one cartoonistís well-informed opinions”. Cartoonists Rights Network International deplores the decision of High Court Judge Rohana Yusof who agreed with the governmentís argument that the cartoons would lead to public disorder. As influential as Zunar’s work is in shaping Malaysian pubic opinion, there is no evidence that the cartoons would lead to public disorder. In so ruling, the court has furthermore ignored freedom of expression rights as provided by the Malaysian Federal Constitution. CRNI urges the Malaysian government and the Malaysian Court to respect the rights of free speech for all Malaysian citizens and reverse its July 14 decision.

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) is a free speech and human rights NGO protecting and monitoring editorial cartoonists around the world who find themselves in trouble because of their influential cartoons.

Dr Robert Russell
20th July 2011

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo Arts Forum at Khami Prison

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The Khami Prison outside Bulawayo hosted a competitive Arts Festival on 6 July 2010. The participants were drawn from all the prison complex units. The festival was organised by Amakhosi Theatre in collaboration with Khami Prison. Amakhosi has been running workshops with the inmates for the past three years and the project seeks to provide recreation, entertainment and life skills.  A total of 16 groups performed theatre, music, poetry and dance. There was also an exhibition of knitwear and wood craft. The festival had a total audience of 700 inmates of which about 160 performed. William Nyandoro of the Arts Council in Bulawayo and Josh Nyapimbi (BAF) and 2 prison officers adjudicated the performances. Cont Mhlanga of Amakhosi Theatre was the guest speaker.  The theme of the festival was the ‘Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act’ (IEEA), which came into force in March 2011. The IEEA seeks to enforce that local Zimbabweans are entitled to own 51 percent ownership in all foreign-owned companies.  The majority of performances, particularly poetry and music were aesthetically good (presumably due to training by Amakhosi and a huge population of artists at Khami prison), however, the absence of performances that explored and challenged negative implications of the IEEA and the horrendous prison conditions and gross rights violations in prison was discomforting though expected given that there is a censorship office at Khami prison.  The value of the art in prison cannot be overemphasised. However, there is need to promote the status of the artist in prison beyond training. There is an apparent need for advocacy and lobbying on the status of the artist in prison as well.  The lobbying would need to also target UNESCO because the Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist does not specifically provide for the artist in prison. The artist in prison has particular needs, which require tailored interventions.

Reprinted from the Nhimbe Trust.

Supporting Community Art Spaces in Senegal & Brazil

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I few weeks ago, the Rory Peck Trust asked freeDimensional to host a documentary filmmaker from a neighboring country.  The filmmaker’s work as a freelance journalist had placed him in harms way and together our organizations took steps to assure his safety.  As freeDimensional transitions to become the Creative Resistance Fund, we are encouraging our art space partners to apply for funding to do the critical hosting work we have designed and road-tested together.  The Atelier Moustapha Dime (named after a famous Senegalese sculptor and managed by one of his former students) offered one of its bedrooms to the filmmaker.  And, this is not the first time that a culture worker in distress has found refuge at Atelier Moustapha Dime.

freeDimensional learned about another community art space in Sao Mateus, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The human rights organization Conectas explained that this space, run by a group of local youth, hosts English lessons, capoeira classes and street painting workshops.  When a local women’s rights initiative and meeting place lost its funding, the youth invited them to have their meetings in the art space.

freeDimensional & the Creative Resistance Fund is proud to support both these critical hosting initiatives in Senegal and Brazil.

CRF seeds Asia Distress Fund

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

As the Creative Resistance Fund further develops, we will continually look for ways to distribute decision-making and resources to trusted partners in regions where we work.  Often times emerging artist residencies are the most interested in providing Creative Safe Haven to culture workers, writers, and dissidents in need of accommodation during a critical period.  At the same time, emerging initiatives are usually fueled by the volunteerism (blood, sweat, tears) of their founders, and may need financial capital to match the social capital they present.  A couple years ago, freeDimensional started the Emerging Art Space Support Initiative (EASSI) to get to know the needs and possibilities of working with new and emerging spaces around the world.  One such space, Sangam House, a literary residency that happens in different locations around India told us of their plan to start a rolling fund for inviting writers from the region who are facing adverse conditions due to views expressed in their work.  As a follow-up step to EASSI, the Creative Resistance Fund has made a financial contribution to Sangam House and their Rolling Fund.  We look forward to learning from this process and gaining insight from Sangam’s experience that will help us to make similar investments in partner organizations elsewhere in the world.  We also plan to support Sangam House in the further development of their fund.

CRF joins Solidarity Fund for Belarus Free Theatre

Friday, December 24th, 2010

The December 19th elections in Belarus have come and gone. Alexander Lukashenko has, once again, declared himself the winner with nearly 80 percent of the votes. International observers have condemned the outcome. In less than 24 hours after the election, Lukashenko’s forces rounded up hundreds of unarmed protestors, including several of the opposition candidates. Many family members of the candidates have told international reporters that they still do not know where their loved ones are.  In the last few days, the total arrests have surpassed one thousand. One of those rounded up was Natalia Koliada of the Belarus Free Theatre. Natalia has been an outspoken critic of Lukashenko’s regime; she was detained overnight on the 19th and released the next day, forced into hiding. Some details of her detention have been made known, including the fact that she was given no water or food and verbally threatened with death. You can read more about Natalia’s detention, and the detentions in general, here. freeDimensional and the Creative Resistance Fund are following the lead of Trans Europe Halle  to build a solidarity fund for the Belarus Free Theatre.  Joining in the effort are Mischief + Mayhem Books and IETM. More information, including how to contribute, can be found here. Blog text reprinted from DW Gibson, co-founder of Mischief + Mayhem Books.

What Makes the Fund Different

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

The Creative Resistance Fund (CRF) is a new initiative started by the founder of freeDimensional.  Currently CRF is being incubated and fiscally sponsored by freeDimensional.  The Fund works in tandem with other services such as Creative Safe Haven; however, it is intended to become an autonomous fund built on an emerging principle of network philanthropy, which has sustained the work of freeDimensional over the past five years.  freeDimensional is set to expire in 2015 because we feel that ten years is enough to pilot, document and transfer skills for the model of critical hosting upon which the initiative was founded in 2005.  We expect that the name freeDimensional will eventually go away, but the practice of Creative Safe Haven will continue to develop and be modified at the intersection of the human rights and artist residency sectors. In its place there will be a new entity called the Creative Resistance Fund; we’ve started early because we want to pilot, build a track record, collaborate and, ultimately, show how the Fund is essential for supporting an overlooked (and under-supported) demographic of activists.  By 2015 the Creative Resistance Fund will be housed at and receive technical assistance from a pre-existing, reputable foundation.  In the mean time, we will continue to experiment raising resources and re-granting them to people using creativity to fight injustice. In addition to the emergency cash grants we make, we also have an artist residency, travel and living stipend combo that we re-grant in Bilbao, Spain.  Now you might ask: How is this different from freeDimensional programming?  When we conduct a Creative Safe Haven placement at freeDimensional, we have learned about a culture worker-in-distress from a trusted partner (organization or individual); we do research to validate the situation and then present the case to our global network of artist residencies.  We usually narrow down the pool of residencies solicited by geography, proximity, visa eligibility, and good fit in terms of culture and professional needs as well as the level of support a residency can offer at the given time.  This is a service we provide on demand from culture workers.  Here’s how the placement in Bilbao is different:  The Festival Against Censorship is an annual, weeklong event in Bilbao.  As a way to support free expression year-round, the Festival offers a Creative Safe Haven space (with all expense paid) to people using creativity to fight injustice.  This constitutes a demand on the part of the art space and festival.  To date, we have organized residencies for Druze painter Fahed Halabi, Uzbek photographer Umida Ahkmedova, and Zimbabwe ceramicist Owen Maseko in Bilbao through this partnership with the Creative Resistance Fund.

Building up to a Fund

Thursday, November 4th, 2010
Before we ever thought about developing a mobility or strategic opportunity fund at freeDimensional, we had several experiences that showed us the utility of quickly dispersing small amounts of money to artists, activists and journalists (all culture workers in our eyes).  Alicia Marván, founder of Guapamacátaro, an Interdisciplinary Residency in Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico, wanted to make sure that she could invite Mexican artists to join an international roster of guests.  So, in 2007  freeDimensional gave Laura Silva Cervantes (pictured here), a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Oaxaca, a fellowship to participate in Guapamacátaro’s thematic residency focused on place and community.  Also in 2007, freeDimensional responded to an urgent call from The Rory Peck Trust for support to Lamin Fatty, a journalist from The Gambia, who quickly needed a place to stay for two weeks while long-term plans were being arranged.  freeDimensional provided a Creative Safe Haven residency to Fatty at a partner center in Dakar, Senegal; and it was understood that – due to recent trauma – he would need to be cared for, fed and oriented by staff of the art space.  In this situation, it was necessary to offer a small daily stipend to Fatty so he could pay for the essentials and build up his strength to make another move.  And in 2008 we saw an opportunity to help Darfuri Peace Singer, Abazar Hamid, begin performing again after he moved his family from Sudan to Cairo, Egypt.  All three of these experiences were building blocks that helped freeDimensional (build a case for and) develop its Creative Resistance Fund.

Introducing the Creative Resistance Fund

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

This site is the new online home of the Creative Resistance Fund, a project of freeDimensional. Welcome!

Since formally launching the Creative Resistance Fund, we met Kianoush Ramezani, Iranian cartoonist and chronicler of the Green Movement. Reporters sans Frontières notified freeDimensional that Ramezani was stuck in Paris without a place to sleep as he awaited political asylum status and he became the first official grantee of the Fund.

Thanks to Kianoush for the drawing above and see more of his work by following his blog!