May 21, 2022

New Report, Data on Rise of Artistic Censorship Around the World During 2015

From The Arts Newspaper:

Attacks on artistic freedom are on the rise globally, according to a report issued by Freemuse, an independent organisation based in Copenhagen that advocates for and defends freedom of expression.

A study the group conducted, based on media reports and other sources, found that there were 469 cases of attacks on artistic expression last year, almost double the count in 2014. Most of the cases were issues of censorship (292), though the total also includes incidents of artists being detained (23), prosecuted (42), physically attacked (24), or even killed (3). Among the worst offenders last year were authoritarian governments, with China having registered 20 “serious violations”, followed by Iran (16) and Russia (15). The reasons for and types of restrictions on expression detailed in the study are multifarious—headings include “Turkey: Terror Legislation and a Thin-Skinned President” and “Egypt: Censorship Stifles Artistic Freedom”.

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From the Freemuse (Publishers of Report):

While at the UN level there have been positive signs of larger attention being paid to the importance of protecting artistic freedom in 2015, sadly the year was dominated by a 20% increase in registered killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats, and a staggering 224% increase in acts of censorship.


Source: Freemuse

Freemuse focuses on music, visual arts, cinema/films (fictional), theatre (including performance art), literature (fiction) and dance. The statistics cover artists who were attacked, persecuted, killed, abducted, detained, prosecuted, imprisoned and censored within a calendar year. The statistics even cover attacks and censorship of artistic productions, venues and events. This is Freemuse’s fourth consecutive report on violations of artistic freedom.

Source: Freemuse

Source: Freemuse

The Freemuse statistics represent a cautious estimate as most violations are never reported. As an example there are no real statistics available on film censorship. The global film industry ignores its responsibility to register and report on films either being stopped by censors before production or films being censored for screenings. Further, it is virtually impossible to document cases of self-censorship when artists feel social or political pressures to either not artistically express themselves or compromise their expression by creating something they did not intend to avoid controversy or personal attack.

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Direct to Full Text Report (46 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.