The annual Safe Havens Conference was held this year in Athens, Greece, marking its 10th-year anniversary. The event, which took place in November, included two days of knowledge and experience-sharing sessions with artists, conducted in collaboration with the Arts Rights Justice Academy (UNESCO Chair at Hildesheim University). Safe Havens Freedom Talks (SH|FT) had the honour of partnering with a broad network of local, regional, and international actors such as AMANI network, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), Arts Equator, Culture Resource (Al- Mawred Al-Thaqafy), Duncan Dance Research Center, Ettijahat – Independent Culture, FemArtAct, The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), Laguna Collective, ONDA (Office nationale de la diffusion artistique), Roberto Cimetta Fund, and Safemuse.

Safe Havens Conference 2023
Photo: Fredrik Elg

The Safe Havens Conference serves as a unique platform, bringing together actors from the realms of human rights and the arts to foster a safe and inclusive environment for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experiences. Developed in close collaboration with artists and organisations in the field, the conference maintained a primary focus on artists, with this year’s programme centred around Greece and the MENA region. The 2023 conference, celebrating a decade of practice, aimed to illuminate the challenges faced by artists in the region within a global context. Also, a dedicated effort was made to identify and visualise needs, resources and gaps in the field of artistic freedom. 

The 2023 Safe Havens Conference began with a smaller, more intimate gathering of artists and caseworkers in the field of artistic freedom, the “Garden Sessions”, focusing on care and well-being for the artist and the sustainability of artistic creation. These sessions fed into the open meeting on November 9-10. The second part of the conference included long table discussions, experience-exchange ‘hives’, artistic interventions and a panel. 

The 2023 conference was organised by the Safe Havens Freedom Talks (SH|FT) in partnership with the UNESCO-Aschberg programme and supported by the Swedish Arts Council/SIDA Artistic Freedom Programme, and Landscapes of Hope through Action for Hope. The conference was also locally supported by the Municipality of Vyronas, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany – Athens and the Norwegian Embassy – Athens.

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