Safe Havens Freedom Talks (SH|FT) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of artists at risk and artistic freedom.

About Us

SH|FT provides an open platform for human rights defenders in the arts globally. It is a meeting place for various organizations, groups, institutions (non-governmental and state), individuals and artists who defend the rights of the persecuted creatives and academics. By stimulating mutual development through collective partnership and encouraging international collaboration, SH|FT aims to promote a better view of the field in total and share the knowledge on matters such as shelter city initiatives, international campaigns, funding opportunities, access to legal advice. Further, SH|FT strives to assess global and regional threats, enhance the understanding of the conditions of women, indigenous – and LGBTQI+ groups, learn about – and explore means of safe communication. SH|FT organizes live and virtual conferences and initiates thematic discussions while identifying and promoting key artists and activists to engage with wider communities. It also helps cross-border, cross-sector participants to see from each others’ perspectives through focused debates.

Safe Havens Conference

Active since 2013, the annual Safe Havens conference has established itself as a key global network meeting between artists, activists, NGOs, lawyers and intergovernmental organizations, on topics related to artistic freedom and the support to artists, writers and other culture producers and academics who face threats, persecution and censorship – sometimes referred to as the Arts Rights Justice sector. The conference has its starting point from a human rights perspective and aims to be a meeting place for human rights defenders within the arts and academia as a way to make visible cultural operators. The conference is organized in a process of collaboration between different cultural operators and organizations, where the focus is directed on the connection between culture and human rights. Furthermore, the conference is a way to visualize the significant position of culture and academia in human rights advocacy and to share knowledge between cultural operators, scholars and human rights- and cultural organizations in this field.

Freedom Talks

Safe Havens – Freedom Talks series is closely connected to the annual global Safe Havens conference. The Freedom Talks series is focused 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. In this series, topics such as the role of artists during the Arab Revolutions and afterwards, the effects of Covid-19 on press freedom globally, the Uyghur situation in China and censorship issues in arts and culture in Southeast Asia, and a wide range of related topics are covered by the speakers. The Freedom Talks aim to share space and broaden the narrative of who can take center stage, by lending the brand to different organizations within the sector. It makes sure to reach the Safe Havens network globally, where people and organizations can make a difference. By letting regional organizations around the world share the ownership, new target groups are reached geographically both for the dissemination of knowledge and to widen the Safe Havens network. The talks are presented in – or translated to – English. The talks are sponsored by the Swedish Institute and can be watched through the Freedom Talks Facebook account and through our partner Howlround, where also previous events are archived.

The Exhibition and Platform

The SH|FT team will develop new means of disseminating knowledge on the threats towards artistic freedom and highlight the actions taken by many artists, NGOs, and institutions around the world to protect the fundamental human right to free speech. SH|FT envisions an exhibition based on an open-source archive and can be transformed into spatial solutions flexible to accommodate different needs and choices depending on the exhibition space and the possibility of updates and global interaction. The project is sponsored by the Swedish Postcode Foundation and will be developed in co-creation with the network through workshops and meetings globally. The platform and exhibition project will be in place entirely by the end of 2023/the beginning of 2024.

Our Story

The Safe Havens conference was initiated in 2013 through a Nordic meeting by the Swedish Arts Council, and was hosted by the City of Malmö between 2013 and 2018. Since the 2019 meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, the Safe Havens conference is now a traveling meeting, hosted by different organizations in the network each year. It is managed by an international board and production team. A non-profit organization under the name of Safe Havens Freedom Talks (SH|FT) was formed earlier this year to carry out the activities of the Safe Havens conference and Freedom Talks and to develop these initiatives further. During the start-up period, the organization Safemuse has generously taken the role of a fiscal sponsor to ensure stability and credibility of SH|FT. With funding from The Swedish Arts Council’s Programme for Artistic Freedom, SH|FT has secured the continuity of its actions for the years 2021 – 2023. The Programme for Artistic Freedom is realized through financial support by Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and aims to improve conditions for artists to create, display and distribute their work without being exposed to threats or harassments. The Swedish Institute is the main funder of the Freedom Talks series. SH|FT is open to collaborations and suggestions regarding the topics and speakers for the Safe Havens conference and Freedom Talks.

Watch our Freedom Talk

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