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Dutch Fund Withholds Support for 8th Havana Biennial

coco fusco writes:

"Dutch Fund Withholds Support for 8th Havana Biennial"

Coco Fusco

Increased suppression of cultural _expression in Cuba
leads the Prince Claus Fund to withhold support from
the 2003 Havana Biennial.

As a result of the arrest of 75 Cuban cultural and
social activists in recent months and their being
sentenced to harsh terms of imprisonment of up to 28
years, the Prince Claus Fund has decided not to
provide financial support to the 8th Havana Biennial,
which will be held in November 2003. All those
sentenced were engaged in the critical Cuban cultural
and social arenas. The convictions signal a
significant deterioration of the situation for
intellectuals and artists. The body responsible for
organising the 8th Havana Biennial, which is an
internationally acclaimed platform for non-western
art, is associated with the government and has not
distanced itself from the policy of prosecution. As a
result, the Prince Claus Fund is forced to withdraw
its collaboration.

The Prince Claus Fund was a key financier of the 7th
Havana Biennial in 2000, contributing 90,000 euro
because of the high quality of the exhibition and the
emphasis on intercultural exchange with artists in
Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Another
reason for support was that the Biennial gave Cubans -
living in a country in which the independent provision
of information is scarce - access to international
cultural developments. These reasons would have
applied this time as well. The Fund nevertheless
considers that it would be inappropriate to
collaborate directly or indirectly with a government
that pursues a policy of severe repression.

The Prince Claus Fund sees its task as drawing
attention to the difficult situation in which artists
and intellectuals find themselves in Cuba at the
moment. Under the present circumstances, it is
particularly important to stand up for those who
struggle peacefully for freedom of speech and for free
cultural _expression.

The Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development
The Prince Claus Fund is a platform for intercultural
exchange. In collaboration with people and
organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the
Caribbean, the Fund realises contemporary activities
and publications in the fields of culture and
development. The Prince Claus Awards are part of this
policy. Special attention is paid to what are called
zones of silence, areas where people are deprived by
political or economic circumstances of the opportunity
for free cultural _expression. This is why the Fund
gave an award in 1999 to the Cuban cultural periodical
Vitral, which operates as a volunteer organisation,
albeit on the fringe, supported by the Roman Catholic
Church in Cuba.

For more information, please contact the Prince Claus
Fund, The Netherlands,

tel + 31.70.427.43.03, fax + 31.70.427.42.77,
Email: m.tummers@princeclausfund.nl"