(Photo of Belarus Free Theatre from May/June 2009 issue of American Theatre.)
Art, artists and free speech are under renewed attack in other parts of the world, with two specific current examples. You may have been following the situation in Belarus, where members of the Belarus Free Theatre were detained for protesting last week’s election results. This article from the New York Times gives more details. As you will see, the company is on the schedule for the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in January. We understand that international pressure, at the popular level, and particularly at the diplomatic level, is key. And thanks to social media, there are more ways to communicate and advocate quickly. For instance, New York-based artist Aaron Landsman has started a petition addressed to our President. For further background on the Belarus Free Theatre, check out this article from the May/June 2009 issue of American Theatre.
We are also seeing growing social and political issues affecting artists and arts organizations in Hungary, a country that has taken a huge step backward with regard to individual liberties. Hungary has just passed a new media law, through which the government has tighter control of media and artistic expression. TCG joins the international arts community to support and preserve the freedom of artistic expression and speech in Hungary. To learn more about this situation, it’s important to read this open letter from the Hungarian Theatre Critics’ Association, reprinted by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.