Arts and Human Rights Report

Why Combine the Arts and Human Rights?

In liberation struggles throughout the history of the United States and across the world, arts activism has been central to the fight for human rights. The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center (HRP) situates itself in the timeless tradition of using of the arts to raise consciousness, build community, and enunciate social inequities. Individual or collaborative, private or public, artistic expression allows us to find, examine and share what is within ourselves, what we witness in the world, and what we are fighting toward. Our puppet theater, our protest songs, our novels, our poems, and our dance are integral parts of our fights for human rights. The arts allow us to articulate and challenge oppressions and expand our imaginations. We write, paint, weave and sculpt our struggles, our movements and our vision for the future.

Moreover, the freedom to participate in arts and cultural work is itself a human right. The right to experience, develop, and articulate our cultures is a necessary component of realizing the full range of human rights to which we are all entitled by virtue of being human. All people have the right to develop, participate in, and enjoy cultural lives.

Under a human rights framework, our governments have the obligation to protect, uplift and promote the attainment of these rights.

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