The Centre for Applied Human
Rights (CAHR), through a grant from the Open Society Foundations, has set up a
fund – Arctivists – to support activists and artists across the world
responding to the outbreak of Covid-19 and its implications for human rights
defenders, activism, and shrinking civic and political space. Paired activists
and artists are able to apply for up to £3,000; it is envisaged that most
grants will be for between £1,000 and £2,000.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has put
a strain on governments around the world and is adversely affecting
particularly vulnerable communities, activists and human rights defenders,
including by further shrinking existing civic and political spaces. For
example, in response to the Covid-19 emergency, the Hungarian Parliament
recently granted PM Viktor Orban the power to rule by decree, in a country that
has already witnessed considerable restrictions on democratic spaces; in
Colombia, shifting governmental priorities in the wake of the Covid-19
emergency have left rural and indigenous communities unprotected, thus
facilitating the targeting of their leaders by illegal armed groups; Chinese
activists who denounced the government’s approach to tackling the pandemic have
been incarcerated for subversion; Algerian civil society organisations have
denounced a government clampdown on anti-regime protesters taking place while
the world is distracted by the pandemic. These are only some of the challenges
that have resulted from the emergency framework adopted by several governments
in response to the spread of Covid-19.
At the same time, the emergency
has bred new responses, and forms of both local and global solidarity, that
either build on existing, positive official or unofficial responses to the
virus or compensate for a lack thereof. For example, media activists in Brazil,
Perú, South Sudan and elsewhere are sharing public health information in their
communities, in the form of comics, videos or cartoons; civil society
organisations across Latin America are encouraging human rights workers to
participate in therapeutic sessions where they can share their feelings through
art, whether in the form of artefacts, stories or music.
Against this backdrop, and the
obstacles to accessing reliable information regarding how responses to the
virus are affecting civil society, synergies between activists and artists are
more important than ever. For example, art in all its forms amplifies activism
and facilitates conveyance of key messages and information, which may
compensate for the lack or manipulation of official narratives. Where civic
spaces have shrunk, art can provide an alternative venue for activists to
broaden their movements and support their work despite curtailed democratic
spaces. The imaginative spaces that art offers can bypass traditional barriers
that governments may erect in an attempt to stymie civil society activism, for
example, by conveying ambiguous or subtle messages. We recognise that the many
activists are artists, and vice-versa – as such we will be flexible in how we
apply these categories.
CAHR recognises that
collaborative endeavours between activists and artists have the potential to
provide innovative responses to the current Covid-19 emergency, whether in a
reactive, therapeutic or imaginative form. We seek applications from activists
and artists to address one or more of the following three objectives:
1) Document, monitor and analyse
events in real time.
2) Reflect on wellbeing, both
your own and that of your communities/ organisations.
3) Go beyond a reactive response
to imagine new, alternative futures. This future-oriented work could assess how
crisis and disruption open up new possibilities for creativity and innovation,
as well as for regressive and repressive measures, and/or build on positive
responses to the virus itself (local and global forms of solidarity).
Activists could write a diary,
make a weekly podcast, write a blog, etc. Artists could work in their chosen
media, to respond to the activist's contribution and/or to wider developments
in their country/region. We are open to innovative suggestions on the nature of
the collaboration between activists and artists.
Activists and artists should
apply by presenting a single collaborative project proposal that does not
exceed two pages
in length and includes the following:
1) A brief profile/bio of the
artist(s) and activist(s) involved.
2) A brief description of the
project/programme of work, highlighting in particular how it responds to the
Covid-19 emergency and its links to activism and civic/political space; which
of the 3 objectives set out above it responds to; any safety, security and
ethical concerns, and how these will be addressed; whether it builds on
existing initiatives or is a new collaboration, and through which
media/methodologies it will be carried out.
3) The main beneficiaries and
audiences of the project/programme of work and why the methodology/medium is
appropriate for the local context.
4) Details of additional sources
of funding or contributions.
5) The envisioned output(s) of the
project/programme of work, for both the activist(s) and artist(s).
6) The amount of funding you are
applying for, and a brief justification for the specific amount requested in
the form of a basic budget and justification of resources (subsistence/salary
costs can be included). It is envisaged that most grants will be for between
£1,000 and £2,000. Additional justification will be required for larger awards,
up to £3,000, for example, that the application involves groups of activists
7) One appendix featuring
examples of artistic work can be included in the application. The appendix can
be additional to the 2-page application.
While applications need to be in
English, activist and artist outputs which are in part or completely in local
languages are welcomed.
1) Clear description of the link
between Covid-19, and responses to the virus, on the one hand, and threats to
activism and civic/political space on the other, affecting either the
artists/activists making the application and/or their country.
2) Evidence of a strong working
relationship between the artist(s) and activist(s).
3) Feasibility and relevance of
the project in challenging and difficult circumstances (including consideration
of safety, security and ethics).
4) Evidence of innovation and
creativity – notwithstanding point 3) above, we are willing to take risks with
this fund to support work that is provocative and challenging.
The activist(s) and artist(s) are
expected to provide a timeline for outputs in their application, between now
and 31 December 2020. The artist(s) and activist(s) are also expected to submit
a short joint report (2 pages) detailing the activities undertaken as well as
all expenses incurred, by 31 January 2021. All inquiries and submissions should
be directed to Piergiuseppe Parisi (email@example.com
and Pippa Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no fixed deadline for
proposals – applications will be considered on a rolling basis over the coming
months. We will endeavour to get back to applicants within 2 weeks. Successful
proposals will be selected by a panel that will include CAHR staff and
associates from a variety of backgrounds.
Copyright for the outputs remains
the sole and exclusive property of the artist and the activist. Terms of
reference/contracts will provide CAHR with the limited right to reproduce,
publicly display, distribute and otherwise use the expected outputs in relation
to CAHR’s work, and as an example of work commissioned through the Open Society
Foundations’ grant. Copyright will be addressed in terms of reference/contracts
developed with successful applicants.
Confidentiality and ethics
CAHR will discuss anonymity,
confidentiality and other ethical issues with artists and activists as they
arise in relation to specific projects.