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IIE Launches Program to Assist Threatened Artists

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At a reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston last night, IIE announced the launch of a program to save the lives and work of artists who face persecution in their home countries. The new Artist Protection Fund (APF), a three-year pilot program supported by a $2.79 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will make life-saving fellowship grants to threatened artists from any field of artistic endeavor, and place them at host universities and arts centers in countries where they can safely continue their work and plan for their future.

IIE is calling on arts organizations around the world to join in this important effort. Hosts can be traditional university art education programs and arts residencies, as well as arts centers, performing arts organizations and less traditional artistic communities. Hosts will be requested to match the fellowship support, through contributions that may include housing, studio space, art supplies, and other support from their networks.

The Artist Protection Fund draws upon the unwavering commitment that the Institute has demonstrated for nearly 100 years to preserve the lives, voices, and ideas of scholars around the globe. In 2002, IIE created the Scholar Rescue Fund to formalize this commitment, and has provided fellowships to enable over 600 scholars from 53 countries to escape from harm and continue practicing their scholarship in freedom and safety.  

In many parts of the world, artists suffer harassment, imprisonment, violence, and even death as a direct consequence of their unique role and power to advance free and creative expression, inspire others and provoke dissent. While IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund helps scholars of art, there is a great need for new initiatives that help practicing artists in all fields who are not scholars or professors.

Speaking at an event at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, IIE President Allan Goodman said, "As in the case of persecuted scholars, threats against just one individual artist can have an immediate chilling effect on entire artistic communities. The Artist Protection Fund will connect  artists to opportunities in a way that provides mutual benefit to both the artists and the arts organizations. Our goal is to build connections and skills that will help the artists to thrive after the fellowship is over and enrich the artistic communities that host them."

With founding support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with the participation of many arts organizations from around the world, IIE developed the Artist Protection Fund to fill a critical unmet need to provide relief and safe haven to artists on a large scale and for extended periods. An initial planning grant from the Mellon Foundation, which as part of its mission aims to preserve, sustain, and support artists’ voices and work, enabled IIE to convene international arts organizations and experts in October 2014 to examine the need and develop solutions. While current emergency arts efforts in the United States and Europe advocate for artists and provide short-term assistance to get them out of immediate danger, a larger effort is needed to enable threatened artists to continue their work until conditions permit a safe return or re-settlement in a more hospitable environment. 

Mariët Westermann, Vice President of the Mellon Foundation, said, "The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is proud to support IIE’s launch of the Artist Protection Fund, a pioneering effort to create a fellowship program to rescue threatened artists and get them working again in the safest, most productive, and most welcoming atmosphere possible. The program will enable their work and voices to continue to be seen and heard, which, as many artists tell us, is of critical importance to them. The benefits will accrue to the artists and their families; their host and home communities; and the larger world in which their art can continue to play a prominent role."

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