The Creative Resistance Fund is intended for activists and culture workers in situations of distress as a result of their professional work. Distress situations may include verbal threats, imprisonment or legal persecution, violent attack, professional or social exclusion, or harassment. In assessing potential cases, freeDimensional confirms the validity of the persecution faced with trusted outside sources and conducts its own independent research. We also consider the extent to which our limited resources can be effective in relation to the urgency of the situation.
The Creative Resistance Fund provides small distress grants to people in danger due to their use of creativity to fight injustice. The fund may be used to evacuate a dangerous situation; to cover living expenses while weighing long-term options for safety; or to act on a strategic opportunity to affect social change. The first round of grants was underwritten by Freedom to Create. The Fund works with the Festival Against Censorship in Bilbao, Spain to make one travel and accommodation grant annually. The first monetary award was made in June 2010 to Kianoush Ramezani (this art is by Kianoush), Iranian cartoonist and chronicler of the Green Movement. Reporters sans Frontières notified freeDimensional that Ramezani was stuck in Paris without a place to sleep as he awaited political asylum status.
The first Bilbao award was given in Spring 2010 to Umida Akhmedova, Uzbek photographer who was charged with criminal defamation of the state due to her documentary photography exhibit, Women and Men, from Dusk until Dawn.
Each year, hundreds of culture workers are violently assaulted for pursuing social change through their art forms: as community leaders and role models, they lose their jobs; face arbitrary imprisonment; and are sometimes killed for speaking truth to power. Between 2005 and 2010, freeDimensional has come to the aid of over 60 activists and culture workers in distress. These individuals are activist artists, journalists, musicians, writers, and community organizers and came from more than 20 countries. Based on lessons learned, we realized the need for an emergency fund to quickly respond to victims of work-related persecution or systemic marginalization. For example: evacuating a dangerous situation (travel and visa expenses) to allow a culture worker-in-distress to travel to an art space that has offered creative safe haven or covering general living costs while the recipient weighs long-term options for safety; paying for urgent psychological care that would enable a victim of persecution the mental health needed to take the next step; assisting with the cost of language courses that would empower an exiled culture worker to pursue his or her craft in a new country.
Grants are typically made within two weeks from the time of application if approved by the Creative Resistance Fund committee, which is made up of the Executive Director and two to three board directors. The committee is currently recruiting additional members.
The Creative Resistance Fund is made possible by a start-up grant from Freedom to Create; in-kind support from the Bilbao Festival Against Censorship / Producciones Serrano; and freeDimensional’s general operating support from the Sigrid Rausing Trust.