Freemuse (freemuse.org) is an independent international non-governmental organization (NGO) advocating for freedom of artistic expression and cultural diversity. The organization’s headquarters are located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Founded in 1998 in the aftermath of the first World Conference on Music and Censorship (Copenhagen), Freemuse initially dealt primarily with the issue of censorship in the field of music. However, from 2011 it expanded its activities to promote freedom of artistic expression and creativity across all art forms. Today, Freemuse is an NGO holding United Nations Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC) and Consultative Status with UNESCO.
The organization’s main activities include gathering information about incidents of suspected violations of freedom of artistic expression and posting information in the form of reports on the Freemuse website. Also, advocacy proposals are submitted to the United Nations and national government agencies and campaigns are conducted. The website posts detailed reports of cases such as indictments against and retainment of artists, and censorship of contents of artistic expression. In cases such as artists held in confinement for long periods, campaigns are conducted to secure their release and to ensure their freedom of artistic expression.
Freemuse is also known for its annual flagship report “The State of Artistic Freedom,” which contains detailed information and analysis about cases of freedom of artistic expression being denied around the world, based on interviews of artists and professional experts and supported with statistical data. In the newest edition published in March 2021, these reports include cases related to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, such as incidents of artists being retained for allegedly spreading false information about the pandemic, the use of pandemic-related declarations of states of emergencies by authorities as excuses for ignoring basic human rights and warnings about the emergence of despotic tendencies. Other reports warned of serious cases such as those involving artists being retained for speaking out against their governments, public authorities or national symbols.
In December 2020, Freemuse released its first report concerning discrimination against and restriction on freedom of expression by artists related to LGBTI. The report is titled “Painting the Rainbow: How LGBTI Freedom of Artistic Expression Is Denied.”