ICORN is committed to improving the conditions for freedom of expression worldwide by providing safe residencies to writers and artists persecuted in their home countries. Their work, their voices, are important to a large public in different parts of the world - particularly in times like these, when the need for information is high, a lot of fake news is being spread, and where states and other powerful actors may take advantage of the situation to shut down critics and free expression – and borders.
UPDATE 2 APRIL 2020 about the ICORN General Assembly in Berlin 3-3 June:
In light of the developments of the coronavirus, we have come to the difficult decision that we will not be able to gather the network for the ICORN General Assembly – Re:writing the future in Berlin 3-5 June this year. The decision follows recommendations from international health authorities and has been made in consultation with local authorities and partners in Berlin: The Senate of Berlin, Allianz Kulturstiftung and Berliner Künstlerprogramm DAAD. We will keep you updated on plans to gather the network again in spring 2021.
As an international organization of colleagues and partners working at a distance during most of the year, we recognize the necessity and value of gathering - to share information, experiences and cultural expressions, to learn from each other and evolve new ideas and connections to continue to develop our common work for freedom of expression. We are therefore working to find alternative ways to meet, to be able to discuss vital issues in our work to protect and promote writers and artists at risk, and to explore how writers and artists are re: writing the future as we speak.
The ICORN Secretariat is running as usual and we carry out most of our work remotely. Addressing the many changes and challenges that occur on many levels these days, we may be a little slower than usual responding to queries while we adjust, and we thank you for your patience.
Applicants to the ICORN programme
We continue to accept and process applications as before and strive to maintain regular contact with our applicants. As always, we ask applicants to keep us updated about their situation, especially in case of location changes.
We recommend that applicants keep updated on public health guidelines from reliable sources and on what impact any temporary travel and residency measures may have on their situation. See also advice from the World Health Organisation
Travel restrictions and border closures
Measures to stop the spread of the Corona virus are impacting the possibility to travel and to apply for or get visas and residency permits. Many migration authority offices are busier, embassies have reduced capacity, and procedures may take even longer than usual. Rules and regulations differ from country to country, they may change from day to day and are difficult to keep track of. We recognise that this is complex to navigate for writers and artists invited and waiting to arrive in an ICORN residency in a city of refuge. We are following up each individually in cooperation with our partners in our member cities, who continue to work on processes to enable invited writers and artists to travel and arrive as soon as possible when travel bans are lifted.
Freedom of expression and cultural life during the pandemic
We are aware that the pandemic is also affecting our 74 member cities and local partners. We highly appreciate all good efforts to keep up the important work to protect, promote and support writers, journalists and artists at risk in these difficult times, when protecting freedom of speech and democratic values are more important than ever.
Writers, artists, cultural professionals and freelancers around the world, are losing assignments and income when events are cancelled or postponed, and funding is put on hold. Together, let us do what we can to encourage and support each other, including new initiatives, and inventive ways to work and cooperate.
We share our partner organisation, On the Move’s list of resources where they have compiled information and initiatives internationally (particularly in Europe, Asia and the USA) - it might offer some good advice and give some inspiration. The Artists at Risk Connection has also made a list of resources for artists and art-related professionals and organizations to find support.
The ICORN General Assembly in 3-5 June 2020
The 2020 ICORN General Assembly – Re:writing the future, is scheduled to take place in Berlin 3-5 June this year. As much as we anticipate this, we are assessing alternative methods and dates for convening the GA. We are following guidance from international as well as local, state, and federal public health officials in Germany, and will keep you updated on changes.
Stay safe, not silent
Our thoughts are with the many people who have been affected by the COVID-19 / corona virus. We hope that you stay safe and healthy and encourage everyone to take extra care of each other and to stand up for freedom of expression wherever it might be threatened.
ICORN is grateful to our committed member cities, our dedicated partners, funders and avid supporters for making it possible to keep up the important work for freedom of expression in the world during these extraordinary times.