Address at Music Freedom Day

State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte's address at a Music Freedom Day seminar.

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Good morning.

The Norwegian coalition government asserts in our new policy platform – the Jeløya platform – that «arts and culture are expressions that embody the power to build and shape societies.

A free and vibrant cultural and civil society is an important prerequisite for an enlightened public debate and for democracy to thrive.

Hence Norway's cultural policy shall be based on the freedom of expression and tolerance.»

Sadly, this is not the case everywhere.

Human rights, including the freedom of expression and the freedom of creation, are under pressure worldwide.

The pressure is not coming from governments alone, but also from groups or movements that want to silence artists. The justifications may be grounded in religious, ideological or traditional values.

It is precisely because cultural and artistic expressions are powerful that they are at risk of being targeted, manipulated or controlled by those in power or in search of power.

Every year hundreds of artists, cultural workers and spectators are attacked simply for enjoying their right to express - and to participate in culture.

This is clearly a challenge that cannot be met without strong partnerships.

We need close cooperation between UN partners, international and national civil society organisations, as well as the individual artists and human rights defenders that experience violations of human rights first hand.

That is why Norway is a staunch supporter of the UN on human rights and Unesco when it comes to cultural rights in particular,

That is why Norway is a strong partner of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and, in this context, the UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights.

And that is why we remain a staunch ally of civil society organisations and partners such as Freemuse and Safemuse that work to improve the conditions for cultural rights around the world.

I want to commend Freemuse for tirelessly working to spotlight the conditions for artistic freedom around the world. The annual statistics report by Freemuse is a central contribution to knowledge-based information on the status of artistic freedom of expression.

I also want to commend Safemuse for engaging Norwegian musicians, composers and lyricists as well as municipalities to create safe havens for musicians under threat and offer them inspiring environments to continue creating while away from home.

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"Culture is not a luxury, it is a necessity" said the former UN Special Rapporteur for cultural rights, Farida Shaheed.

Investments in culture and in the conditions that allow people to learn, develop their creativity, experience the humanity of others and exercise their critical thinking are necessary to create cultural democracies and foster civic engagement.

While we enjoy the multitude of artistic expressions at by:Larm and other festivals, we must never forget the violations of artistic expressions that happen as we speak.

That is why Music Freedom Day is so important, to remember and to unite to fight censorship and abuse of artistic freedom. I wish you all the best with the events today and tomorrow.

Thank you.