The International Free Expression Project has launched a COVID arts initiative with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to help artists survive the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated the ability of many to exhibit or sell their work, to perform in public, to hold a day job or to pay the rent. We are providing direct financial support to artists and will be displaying their work online and in public places. We are calling on everyone in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh — our home base — to display artworks in their windows, on their porches or anywhere they can be seen as people walk by. Walking around is about the only thing we can do outside our homes these days, so let’s make outside as lively and rejuvenating as possible. Let’s lift all our spirts while helping artists continue to make a living and have their voices heard.
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New York Chekhov Variety Show / April 26, 2019 / The International Free Expression Project organized with Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection and Yaddo artist colony the Ninth Annual Anton Chekhov Variety Show in New York. The headline performer was Vietnamese pop star/dissident Mai Khoi, a member of the IFEP’s International Advisory Board and a 2018 laureate of the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent. The show was dedicated to the protection of free expression. Mai Khoi also has performed at other IFEP events in New York and San Francisco.
The International Free Expression Project co-sponsored with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a press-freedom forum April 11, 2019 dedicated to the memory of Jamal Khashoggi. It was titled The War on Truth: Journalism Has Never Been More Vital Nor More Imperiled. The forum featured Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, who oversees the Opinion section of the paper for which Khashoggi wrote; Emilia Diaz-Struck, Latin American coordinator for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the organization that brought together hundreds of journalists from around the world to produce The Panama Papers project; and David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, executive editor emeritus of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and scholar-in-residence at Carnegie Mellon University. Their lively and insightful conversation was enthusiastically received by an audience of about 250 at the University of Pittsburgh's Clapp Hall Auditorium. The forum was financed by The Pittsburgh Foundation, for which IFEP and the other organizers are most grateful. Here are some photographs of the event.
The International Free Expression Project has sponsored hundreds of artworks -- including a blocklong pressroom art installation for the 21st Century First Amendment Conference in June. It has purchased and preserved 90 tons of newspaper press parts and thousands of artifacts. It has attracted enormous local and growing national and international support. It is about to incorporate as a standalone nonprofit organization (it currently has a nonprofit fiscal sponsor), hire paid staff and develop a long-term strategic plan. Recent events include:
On Oct. 16, IFEP held a 'friendraiser' in San Francisco featuring a performance by Vietnamese singer/dissident Mai Khoi, an IFEP International Advisory Board member and 2018 awardee of the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent. It was hosted by Crowell & Moring and held at the law firm's offices overlooking San Francisco Bay. Members of the San Francisco and Silicon Valley banking, business and legal communities expressed excitement about helping to advance the project.
On Oct. 21-22, IFEP mounted an exhibit of artworks sponsored activities at the National Conference on the First Amendment.
IFEP supporters to date
Local supporters include the mayor of Pittsburgh, the county executive of Allegheny County, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Henry John Simonds Foundation, the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art, curators of Carnegie Museums and several dozen Carnegie Mellon University faculty members and grad students in art, robotics, engineering, architecture and other fields. There are many more.
IFEP’s expanding and diversifying International Advisory Board so far includes actor Michael Keaton, historian David McCullough; Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Alexievich, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron; news anchor Tom Brokaw; Vietnamese singer/dissident and Havel Prize laureate Mai Khoi, past chair Omar Rabago Vital of the International Free Expression Exchange, and Electronic Frontier Foundation director of international free expression Jillian York.
News coverage (local)
NextPittsburgh / June 25, 2018
WESA-NPR / June 19, 2018
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / June 19, 2018
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