Smashing Times November Newsletter: Freedom of Expression

Welcome to the November edition of the Smashing Times Newsletter. Our theme this month is ‘Freedom of Expression’. The UN’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists took place earlier this month, on 2 November. According to the UN, ‘ending impunity for crimes against journalists. . . is an essential precondition to guarantee freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens.’

When it comes to artists doing what they do, freedom of expression is an absolute necessity. Below are six responses to this theme, from Featured Artist and 2023 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Narges Mohammadi; visual artists Chrissie Dervin, Gillian Wright, and Khaled Hourani; Smashing Times Newsletter Editor Féilim Ó Brádaigh under his pen name Féilim James; and poet Emma Lazarus. Read on for grants and opportunities, news, and 10 We Admire.

Favourite Quotes

‘Art is about freedom of expression, and should not be molded to fit any propaganda or lofty ideal.’
         – Joyce Carol Oates
‘While, legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders.’
         – Arundhati Roy

‘If we don’t believe in free expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’
         – Noam Chomsky


‘The Witch No. 1’, lithograph by Joseph E Baker

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s classic parable of mass hysteria, draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch trials of 1692-93 – described by Miller as ‘one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history’ – and the American anti-communist purges led by FBI Director J Edgar Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia, and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations. Through its allegorical resonance, it is also an indictment of restrictions on freedoms of expression and association. In these ways, it remains particularly relevant in the present day.
‘Freedom’ by Rage Against the Machine
‘Freedom’ by American rock band Rage Against the Machine was released as the fourth and final single from their self-titled debut studio album in 1994. The song paints a grim picture of how the government, big businesses, and the media manipulate us into believing we’re free while they control the narrative. The true realities remain hidden, leaving us trapped in this illusion of freedom. Where there is no freedom of consciousness, there can never be freedom of expression. Listen and watch the music video here.
Free Speech by Jacob Mchangama

Free Speech, a book by Danish lawyer and human rights advocate Jacob Mchangama, traces the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of the idea of free speech. Through a series of captivating stories about free speech’s many defenders, Mchangama reveals how the free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement, enabling the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. Yet the desire to restrict speech, too, is a constant, and he explores how even free speech champions can be led down this path when the rise of new and contrarian voices challenge power and privilege. Free Speech demonstrates how much we have gained and how much we stand to lose without it. The book can be purchased here

Art Inspires

Image: AFP – Getty Images

Featured Artist: Narges Mohammadi

Our Featured Artist this month is imprisoned Iranian human rights activist and journalist Narges Mohammadi, who was recently awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize for Peace. Mohammadi is known for her work as deputy director of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, an organisation that is banned in Iran, which advocates for political prisoners, and was co-founded by Shirin Ebadi, the only other Iranian to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace (2003).

A professional engineer, she lost her post in 2009, following a jail sentence. As a journalist, she wrote many articles arguing for social reforms in Iran, and published a collection of essays, The Reforms, the Strategy, and the Tactics. She campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty, women’s rights, and the right to protest. She has spent most of the last six years in Iranian prisons.

Mohammadi began her reform activism in local journalism, but she is best known for her involvement with the Defenders of Human Rights Center. Mohammadi has been repeatedly arrested for her work in assisting incarcerated activists and their families, with the first instance dating back to 2011. After being released on bail in 2013, Mohammadi began campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran. Iran was the nation with the highest known executions in 2022, at 576, according to a report by Amnesty International.

Mohammadi is currently serving multiple sentences amounting to 12 years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. When she returned to prison, she began to oppose the regime’s systematic use of torture and sexualised violence against political prisoners, especially women. While in prison, she was also a vocal critic of the government’s actions in the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian who in 2022 died while in custody for ‘improper attire’. (The article below was written for the one-year anniversary of Amini’s death.) 

In Mohammadi’s book White Torture (2022), fourteen women, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, share their experiences of unjust imprisonment in Iran: harassment and beatings by guards, total blindfolding, and denial of medical treatment. White torture is a type of psychological torture aimed at complete sensory deprivation and isolation via confinement within four white walls, with no natural light, no sound, and no human contact. Most political prisoners who experience this type of torture in Iran are journalists. Her 2021 documentary film of the same name, which includes the testimonies of men, won an award for reportage at the International Film Festival and Human Rights’ Forum. Her family now lives in France.

Mohammadi has won a number of awards, including the Per Anger Prize (2011), the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2023), and the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award (2023). On October 6 of this year, Mohammadi was announced as the recipient of the 2023 Nobel Prize for Peace ‘for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and for her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all’, which the Norwegian Nobel Committee characterised as a ‘brave struggle [that] has come with tremendous personal costs.’
Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran, where Narges Mohammadi is imprisoned

The More They Lock Us Up, the Stronger We Become

My fellow inmates and I were gathered in the women’s ward of Evin prison in Tehran one evening when we saw a television report of Mahsa Amini’s death. Just over a year ago, she died in the custody of Iran’s morality police for allegedly failing to wear a proper hijab. Her death set off an immediate and widespread uprising – led by women – that rocked the country.

In the women’s ward, we were filled with grief – and rage. We used our short phone calls to collect information. At night, we held meetings to exchange the news we’d heard. We were stuck inside, but we did what we could to raise our voices against the regime. Anger reached its peak a few weeks later, when a fire swept through part of Evin on October 15. We chanted ‘Death to the Islamic Republic’ amid the gunfire from security forces, explosions, and flames. At least eight people were killed.

Thousands of people protesting Ms Amini’s death were arrested in the months afterward. As the anniversary of her death approached, Iran’s leaders worked hard to suppress dissent. I have been imprisoned in Evin three times since 2012 for my work as a defender of human rights, but I have never seen as many new admissions to the women’s ward there as in the last five months.

Other women’s wards also filled up. Through friends in Qarchak prison southeast of Tehran, I learned of about 1,400 new detainees being held there. Other women have been sent to high-security wards, including Evin’s Section 209, run by the Ministry of Intelligence. A detainee who was transferred to Evin from Adelabad prison in Shiraz told us of hundreds of new female detainees in Adelabad.

What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.

The morale among the new prisoners is high. Some spoke with strange ease about writing their wills before heading onto the streets to call for change. All of them, no matter how they were arrested, had one demand: overthrow the Islamic Republic regime.

During recent months, I met many female prisoners who had been beaten and bruised, their bones broken, and who had been sexually assaulted. I have tried my best to document and share that information.

Still, we continue to raise our voices. We have issued statements and held general meetings and sit-ins following the news of mass demonstrations, street killings, and executions. The security and judicial institutions have tried to intimidate and silence us by cutting off our phone calls and weekly meetings with family, or by filing new court cases against us. In the past seven months, they have opened six new criminal cases over my human rights activities in prison and added two years and three months to my sentence, which is now 10 years and nine months.

I started campaigning in Iran 32 years ago, as a student. My goal back then was to fight religious tyranny, which along with tradition and social customs has led to the deep repression of women in this country. That’s still my goal. Now, seeing the groundbreaking efforts of young women and girls during this revolutionary movement, I feel my feminist dreams and goals are closer to realisation.

Women emerged as the vanguard of this uprising, demonstrating immense courage and resistance, even in the face of heightened animosity and aggression from the religious authoritarian regime.

In the past, before Ms Amini’s death, I had heard some accounts of sexual assaults against women within the women’s prisons, but I had never personally witnessed so many life-threatening beatings and injuries, nor had I encountered tales of sexual assault and harassment of this magnitude.

The regime seems to be purposefully propagating a culture of violence against women. However, it will not be able to intimidate or restrain them. Women will not give up.

We are fuelled by a will to survive, whether we are inside prison or outside. The government’s violent and brutal repression may sometimes keep people from the streets, but our struggle will continue until the day when light takes over darkness and the sun of freedom embraces the Iranian people.

This article originally appeared in the New York Times on 16 September, 2023.
Watercolour, pencil, white pen on Fabriano paper. 76cm x 63cm

Into My Arms by Chrissie Dervin

In Chrissie Dervin’s striking watercolour Into my Arms, the child at the centre is the flower of contemporary Ireland, born of the first generation that does not fear the coffin ship, the laundry, or the boat to England. In the background, the karst is littered with emblems of this cultural heritage. Both universal and uniquely Irish, they are the thumbprint of our sense of self and location: shame, the death of innocence, the pernicious regulation of sexuality, the tattered matriarch of the Church.

This piece serves as a contemplative exploration of the intersection between historical injustices and contemporary challenges to fundamental human rights. Here, a young, innocent girl becomes the symbolic focal point within a dreamlike landscape, drawing parallels between the legacy of oppression in Ireland and the ongoing struggles for privacy and freedom of expression in other countries worldwide. The work bridges a temporal gap and draws attention to the enduring consequences of systemic violations, challenging viewers to confront uncomfortable truths and reflect on the broader implications for human rights.

Chrissie Dervin, based in Macroom, County Cork, is a visual artist best known for intricate work rendered through the traditional processes of pencil drawing and etching. Her work has come to encompass her visual reflections on the body, its frailty, and our transcendence of this frailty. Visit her Instagram profile here.
Image: Michael Dziedzic

‘Free Speech: Some Questions and Some Findings’ by Féilim James

In the present day, free speech has become a buzzword of the political right – especially the far right, rebranded as ‘the alt-right’ – who often use it as a defence for opinions rooted in prejudice. Western society is currently witnessing a rise of right-wing ‘intellectuals’, their substantial following composed overwhelmingly of men, particularly those who are marginalised in one way or another, be that through socioeconomic status or age. Their main hunting ground is the internet, their preferred medium videos. And the key weapon in their armoury is fluency (or rhetoric, depending on how generous we’re feeling) and an aptitude for debate. They tap into latent prejudices in their audience, offering legitimation to ideas previously considered taboo. Misogyny is validated by evolutionary psychology; racist bias hides behind apparently definitive statistical findings. Chauvinism is given a do-over, while bigotry masquerades as respectable intellectual discourse.

The question is this: if one expresses in a well-articulated speech the same sentiment as someone hurling a slur word on a street corner, what makes the former’s actions any more valid? Why should the former be legal, the latter not? Hate speech – abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds – is inarguably wrong, and the argument for its criminalisation is strong. Language is powerful, so powerful it has the potential to make tolerable the worst forms of intolerance. Yet how does one legislate against hatred when it is dressed up in elegant diction? And even if we could, is this really a power we want to confer on our governments? Are debate and discussion not favourable to censorship?

As far as this author is concerned, hate speech is not free speech. When one’s speech threatens the rights of others to go about their lives free of harassment, abuse, or claims that an aspect of their identity predisposes them to malice, ignorance, or any other imagined fault, then one’s freedom of speech is afforded at the expense of its target’s freedom from discrimination and right to equality.

And yet there is a naivety and an insularity to the West’s preoccupation with what words we should and should not be allowed to say. A report by global risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft has found that about 3.38 billion people, or roughly 46% of the global population, live in countries deemed to be at ‘extreme risk’ in relation to the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Out of 198 countries, 58 were categorised as ‘extreme risk’ when it came to the report’s freedom of opinion and expression index. Indeed, such prominent countries as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates each hold a score of less than 0.2 in a scale of 0 to 1 in The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project’s Freedom of Expression Index 2022, which measures the extent to which people can voice their views and the media present different political perspectives. Freedom of expression is also on the wane worldwide: 80% of the world’s population lives with less freedom of expression than they had a decade ago, according to last year’s Global Expression Report.

So, as we in the West thrash out what we should and should not be allowed to say legally, let’s keep in mind that the fact we can have this debate in the first place is, by comparison with many other countries, more like a privilege than a right, sadly.

Féilim James is a writer from Dublin, Ireland, whose work has been funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Arts Office. He has appeared in New Irish Writing (upcoming), Acumen, The High Window, Icarus, and elsewhere, and has had four plays and two short films produced. Visit his website here.
Oil on board. 61 x 92 cm

Cop On by Gillian Wright

Gillian Wright’s painting Cop On is from a body of work created to express the trauma of bereavement by suicide. The artist’s intention was for the painting to be confrontational, with the direct gaze connecting the viewer to the raw emotion of the subject. Wright volunteers with Healing Untold Grief Groups (HUGG), through which she has found that by providing people bereaved by suicide a safe space in which to express their emotions, a degree of hope and healing can be achieved. Suicide is an epidemic in our country – and yet it remains taboo, ensuring the bereaved a lonely and silent grief, laden with stigma and shame. Societal taboos subtly dissuade people from talking about issues like suicide, thereby curbing their freedom of speech in an indirect and complex way.

Gillian Wright is a muti-media artist living in Donegal. In October 2023, her work was featured in the inaugural issue of the journal Profiles. Click here for her website, and here for her Instagram profile.
‘Life and Art’ by Emma Lazarus

Not while the fever of the blood is strong,
The heart throbs loud, the eyes are veiled, no less
With passion than with tears, the Muse shall bless
The poet-soul to help and soothe with song.
Not then she bids his trembling lips express
The aching gladness, the voluptuous pain.
Life is his poem then; flesh, sense, and brain
One full-stringed lyre attuned to happiness.
But when the dream is done, the pulses fail,
The day’s illusion, with the day’s sun set,
He, lonely in the twilight, sees the pale
Divine Consoler, featured like Regret,
Enter and clasp his hand and kiss his brow.
Then his lips ope to sing—as mine do now.

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was a Jewish-American author of poetry, prose, and translations, best known for her sonnet ‘The New Colossus’, which was inspired by the Statue of Liberty and appears inscribed on a bronze plaque on the statue’s pedestal. She was involved in helping refugees in New York who had fled antisemitic pogroms in eastern Europe, seeing the Statue of Liberty as a way to express her empathy for them.
Acrylic on canvas. 87 x 68 cm

Naser by Khaled Hourani

In order to contextualise his painting Naser, Palestinian artist Khaled Hourani simply cited the lyrics of Emel Mathlouthi’s ‘Holm’ (‘A Dream’) – an Arabic remake of the Iranian song ‘Soltane Ghalbhaa’ – translated to English below (listen to Mathlouthi’s moving version here):

If I could close my eyes and the dreams take me by the hand, I would rise and fly in a new sky and I will forget my sorrows

If I could travel in my imagination, I would build palaces and nights where love and my hopes can grow and we will erase the pain…

A world in which you see people whose features
Are clouded by oppression, misery and suffering
From a bitter reality that destroys everything we build

A world where you see rising walls of tyranny that crushes in us dreams and dreams
And reign darkness and greed in all hearts

Khaled Hourani is a prominent Palestinian artist, curator, and writer, who was the Artistic Director of the International Academy of Art Palestine from 2007-2010, and its General Director from 2010-2013. In 2013, he was awarded Creative Time’s Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change in New York City; the many local and international exhibitions he has participated in include Catastrophe and the Power of Art at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2017, and Picasso and the Exodus at Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse, France, 2019. Visit his Instagram profile here.

Smashing Times News

Educators taking part in an Acting for the Future workshop run by Smashing Times Company Manager Freda Manweiler

Smashing Times Travel

Smashing Times Company Manager Freda Manweiler and William Caughey are in Lagos, Nigeria from 27 November to 1 December for the second and final learning/training activity as part of the EXCELLENCE BOOST! project. Freda presented on Smashing Times’ Acting For the Future project and ran elements of the project’s workshops with the educators present. The EXCELLENCE BOOST! project aims to provide teachers and trainers with opportunities to develop and maintain their technical, pedagogical, and transversal (e.g. digital, intercultural communication) skills at the highest level, as well as the chance to network and exchange experiences with other professionals from different parts of the world (in this case Europe and Africa). Freda and William were in Port Elizabeth, South Africa back in August/September for the first learning/training activity. Read more about the EU-funded EXCELLENCE BOOST! project here.
Job Advertisement: Part-Time Operations Manager

Time Frame: Two days per week by six months (days may increase)
Maternity leave cover
We are recruiting a part-time employee to work with Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality. Smashing Times operates as an arts space and digital hub for artists, communities, and the general public across Ireland and internationally, providing a resource service and networking agency with guidance, advice, information, support, and advocacy in relation to using high quality creative processes and collaborative, socially engaged arts practice to promote human rights and gender equality.

The successful candidate should have
  • Excellent project management skills, interpersonal and communication skills, and business experience in smoothly and efficiently running a busy office for an arts organisation.
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving skills.
  • Education to degree standard. (Note: candidates with exceptional, relevant work experience may also be considered in lieu of degree qualifications.)
  • A strong aptitude with social media platforms: Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
  • Experience of engaging with a broad range of communities.
  • Experience in report writing and writing funding applications.
  • Experience with financial reporting/general book-keeping.
  • Strong computer skills and proficiency in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and WordPress.
  • Access to a car and a full Irish driving licence would be an asset.
The successful candidate will be offered a fixed-term contract of employment and will be expected to work a minimum of 16 hours per week.

How to Apply:

Email your CV and cover letter to Closing date for receipt of applications is 12pm on 4 December, 2023. Applications received after this deadline will not be accepted.

The position begins 9 January, 2024 but applicants should be available for two days the week of 11 December, 2023 for handover. Smashing Times is committed to a policy of Equality of Opportunity in its employment practices.
Acting for the Future Performances

Smashing Times presented a number of performances this month as part of Acting for the Future, a project that uses creative processes to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention. ‘A Day Out’, written by Paul Kennedy and performed by Ben Waddell, was presented in a selection of schools, followed by a post-show discussion with Ben, psychologist Eimear Burke, and facilitator Ciara Hayes. First, it was brought to Scoil Mhuire Carrick-on-Suir and Comeragh College, Carrick-on-Suir, on 14 November. Then the show was performed in St Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross and Good Counsel College, New Ross, on 21 November. ‘A Day Out’ tells the story of two friends in their twenties and their last day together. For more on Acting for the Future, please click here.
Tribute to Ukrainian Writer Victoria Amelina

During a recent event we held as part of the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival 2023, we paid tribute to Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina. Victoria Amelina (1986-2023) was a Ukrainian novelist, essayist, and human rights activist based in Kyiv. She was a winner of the Joseph Conrad Literature Prize for her prose works, including the novels Dom’s Dream Kingdom and Fall Syndrome, and a finalist of the European Union Prize for Literature. Victoria was working on a book of non-fiction entitled War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War, which is expected to be published shortly and follows the paths of journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers, and volunteers who document war crimes in Ukraine while the war is still ongoing. The book is also a personal war journal that observes the author’s transformation into a war crimes researcher and back into a book author.

Smashing Times’ recent event, entitled ‘Voices from Ukraine: War, Film, and Human Rights’, was held on 17 October in The Pumphouse, Dublin Port. Victoria, who sadly passed away earlier this year as a result of a Russian missile strike in Ukraine, was the key speaker at the 2022 event ‘Nothing Bad has ever Happened – Stories from Ukraine’ (the title taken from an essay by Victoria) in Smock Alley Theatre, hosted by Pen Ireland with Smashing Times and Front Line Defenders for the 2022 Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival. She spoke about the situation for writers and artists in Ukraine and bringing the war in Ukraine to a close. At the 2023 event, Smashing Times Artistic Director and artist Mary Moynihan spoke about Victoria’s inspiring work before a minute’s silence was observed and a pre-recorded reading of her work was played, performed by Halyna Budilova.

Victoria was a fierce advocate for human rights and the rights of artists, including free expression. As a pioneering writer and activist, she will be remembered dearly for her courage in facing and documenting the terrible reality of the Russian invasion.
The artists taking part in Smashing Times’ contribution to the Theatre in Palm Hybrid Residency

Theatre in Palm Hybrid Residency

From 15-26 November, Smashing Times took part in a hybrid residency as part of the Theatre in Palm project. The residency combined online and in-person activity, the latter taking place in The Carmelite Centre, The Teachers Club, and the Carmichael Centre. Smashing Times’ contribution to the residency was led by Smashing Times Artist/Facilitator-in-Residence Michael McCabe, and featured artists from the European Theatre and Film Institute, Belgium, and Centro Teatrale MaMiMò, Italy.

The overall hybrid residency sees 130 emerging theatre and performing arts artists from 12 European countries create live performances together, which were broadcast live on Friday, 17 November 2023. Click here to read more on this project.
Creative Connections Workshops

Five creative arts workshops took place throughout November as part of Smashing Times’ Creative Connections project. The first, facilitated by Dr Stephen Herron, was held in Old Warren Community Association, Resurgam Community Development Trust, Lisburn on 7 November. The second was facilitated by Maura Johnston and took place on 13 November in The HubBT80, Cookstown, County Tyrone. The final three workshops, all conducted by Fiona Bawn-Thompson, occurred on 15, 22, and 29 November in Clanrye Group, Killeavy, Newry.

Creative Connections is a cultural, arts-based project using creative processes of theatre, film, and new digital technologies in areas designated as disadvantaged, both in Northern Ireland and south of the border. A key aim is to use creativity and the arts to identify collective, shared solutions for bringing the groups together and creating a genuinely integrated society. The project is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Rural Engagement Arts Programme.
Participants taking part in a workshop delivered by Mary Moynihan at the National Women’s Council All-Island Women’s Forum

Creative Connections in Action: Mary Moynihan at NWC’s All-Island Women’s Forum

Smashing Times Artistic Director and artist Mary Moynihan presented an innovative, creative arts workshop with members of the All-Island Women’s Forum at a residential gathering organised by the National Women’s Council on 1 November at the Gateway Hotel, Dundalk. Prior to the workshop, Mary presented on her work as an artist with Smashing Times, using the arts to promote peace-building and reconciliation in Ireland and across Europe. Mary’s ensuing workshop used arts-based processes of games and exercises to explore themes of solidarity and ‘creative connections now and into the future’. The workshop facilitated an exploration of connections and partnerships in a fun and creative environment.

The All-Island Women’s Forum is a gathering of women who have been integral to peacebuilding and community building across the island of Ireland; the forum believes that solidarity amongst women is integral to achieving equality and prosperity.

10 We Admire

Often hailed as the first freedom, free speech is the bedrock of democracy. But it is a challenging principle, subject to erosion in times of upheaval. Today, in authoritarian states, and even in democracies around the world, it is on the decline. For this month’s 10 We Admire, we have chosen to focus on ten moments in history – protests, campaigns, boycotts – which were seminal in the fight for freedom of expression, women’s suffrage, civil rights, human rights, and equality.
Mud March (1907)
The United Procession of Women, or Mud March as it became known, was a peaceful demonstration in London on 9 February, 1907, organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), in which more than 3,000 women marched from Hyde Park Corner to the Strand in support of women’s suffrage. It acquired the name ‘Mud March’ from the day’s weather, since incessant heavy rain left the marchers drenched and splattered in mud. The Mud March was the largest ever public demonstration until then in support of woman’s suffrage. Although it brought little by way of immediate progress on the parliamentary front, its significance in the general suffrage campaign was considerable. Read more about the Mud March here.
Silent Sentinels Protest (1917)

One of the most iconic protests of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in America was conducted by a group called the Silent Sentinels, organised by Alice Paul, a Quaker women’s rights activist with a commitment to non-violence and women’s suffrage. The Silent Sentinels protested in front of the White House during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, from January 1917 to June 1919. The protesters wore sashes, held banners, and carried flags with messages on them in support of women’s right to vote. They used silence, instead of loud demonstrations, as a form of protest, which was a new strategy within the national suffrage movement. Although silent, their presence and messaging amplified the inequality that existed at home while the United States was fighting World War I abroad to protect democracy around the world. These protests became one of the most effective in American history and helped spur the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, which granted women the constitutional right to vote. Read more here.
Montgomery Bus Boycotts (1955)

Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on 1 December, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the US Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional. The boycott began in December 1955 and lasted until December 1956. Considered a foundational moment in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, the boycott began after Parks, a black woman, was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. The boycott drastically reduced the profitability of the busing system, garnering national attention and pressuring the Supreme Court to declare Montgomery’s policy of segregated busing unconstitutional. You can read more here.
March on Washington (1963)

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom remains one of the most famous and important events in all of American history. Perhaps no other event better exemplifies the soul of the First Amendment – which guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition – than the March on Washington. The march was organised by A Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, prominent civil rights leaders who built a diverse coalition of activists for the march under the banner of jobs and freedom. On the 28 August, 1963, around 250,000 activists marched in Washington DC. The speeches culminated in the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr issuing his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark bill in civil rights history. Read more here.
Berkeley Free Speech Movement (1964)

During the 1950s, heightened tensions with the Soviet Union ushered in a wave of hysteria regarding fears over the spread of communism in the US. In response, universities in California enacted numerous regulations limiting students’ political activities. By the mid-1960s, however, encouraged by the Civil Rights Movement, students at the University of California, Berkeley, began testing the limits of their collegiate free speech. In October of 1964, former graduate student Jack Weinberg refused to show his identification to the campus police and was arrested. Thousands of students gathered in response and surrounded the police car Weinberg was detained in for the following 32 hours, all while Weinberg was inside it. The car was used as a speaker’s podium until the charges against Weinberg were dropped. Then, on December 2, thousands of students occupied a campus building to force the school administration to relinquish restrictions on political speech and action on campus. By January of 1965, the new acting chancellor, Martin Meyerson, established provisional rules that allowed political activity on the Berkeley campus. The Berkeley Free Speech Movement not only essentially dismantled free speech restrictions on college campuses in California, but also helped catalyse the anti-war movement amongst young people who could now use their voices safely and legally. Read more here.
Stonewall (1969)

The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising, Stonewall rebellion, or simply Stonewall, were a series of protests by members of the gay community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, and neighbourhood street people fought back when the police became violent. The riots are widely considered the watershed event that transformed the gay liberation movement and the twentieth-century fight for LGBTQI+ rights in the United States and beyond. Read more on Stonewall here.
June Fourth Incident: Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989)

The Tiananmen Square protests, known in China as the June Fourth Incident, were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, lasting from 15 April to 4 June, 1989. It began as a spontaneous outpouring of respect and grief following the death of reformist leader Hu Yaobang, but the event then took on a life of its own as mourning became protest against corruption and repression, and a call for greater political freedom. Protesting spread to around 400 Chinese cities. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts by the demonstrators and the Chinese government to find a peaceful resolution, the Chinese government declared martial law on the night of 3 June and deployed troops to occupy the square in what is referred to as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Hundreds of unarmed peaceful pro-democracy protesters were killed in Beijing, as well as a small number of soldiers. The Chinese government has never acknowledged the true events surrounding the Tiananmen Square massacre. It remains a contentious topic in China, with authorities banning all mention of the protest even today. Considered a watershed event, reaction to the protests set limits on political expression in China that have lasted up to the present day. Yet brave individuals and organisations continue the fight for recognition of the true facts. More can be read here.
The Baltic Way: Chain of Freedom (1989)
The Baltic Way was a peaceful political demonstration which took place on 23 August, 1989, when approximately two million people joined their hands to form a 690km long human chain through the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), which at the time were occupied and annexed by the USSR, thus demonstrating their unity in their efforts towards freedom. The biggest achievement of the protest campaign was getting the USSR to give in to the joint protest of the inhabitants of the Baltic states and admit to all the past crimes. The USSR acknowledged the existence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and declared it invalid. It was one of the most important steps towards the renewal of independence in the Baltics. The Baltic Way attracted a lot of international publicity to the joint struggle of the three countries. It gave impetus to democratic independent movements elsewhere in the world, stimulating the German reunification process for example. Read more about this demonstration here.
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (2005)

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) is a network of over 11,000 civil society organisations (CSOs) organised in about 58 National Coalitions, and in constituency groups of women, youth, and socially-excluded people, amongst others. It supports people in their struggles for justice, bringing individuals and organisations together to challenge the institutions and processes that perpetuate poverty and inequalities. Launched in 2005 at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, Brazil, GCAP has mobilised hundreds of millions of people and co-organised the world’s largest single issues-based campaign to ‘Stand UP’ Against Poverty, certified by the Guinness World Records with 173 million people in 2009. You can read more about GCAP here.
Repeal the Eighth (2018)

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1983 was an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which inserted a subsection recognising the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn. Abortion had been subject to criminal penalty in Ireland since at least 1861 and the amendment ensured that legislation or judicial interpretation would be restricted to allowing abortion only in circumstances where the life of a pregnant woman was at risk. It was approved by referendum on 7 September, 1983 and signed into law on 7 October, 1983. In 2018, it was repealed by referendum. The overwhelming vote of the Irish people to repeal the Eighth Amendment was a watershed moment for human rights and equality in Ireland. Read more here and here.

News From the Network

Smashing Times and Others Respond to the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Smashing Times Centre for the Arts and Equality and many organisations and individuals involved in the arts, human rights, and humanitarianism have responded to the ongoing middle-eastern conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has tragically resulted in thousands of casualties so far.

Smashing Times calls for peace and non-violence and supports calls for immediate ceasefires (permanent not temporary) in all wars and adherence to international human rights laws. We condemn the killing of civilians and encourage the resolution of conflict through peaceful means such as meaningful dialogue and mutual understanding, founded upon a commitment to upholding human rights for everyone.

Australian artists such as Ben Quilty and Jasper Knight are among more than 60 artists who have donated works to an auction raising funds for Médecins Sans Frontières’ humanitarian and medical aid efforts in Israel and Palestine. The auction was organised by artist Nathan Hawkes, who said he was feeling ‘intense distress and despair at watching the horrors unfolding so rapidly’. To read more, view the artworks, and make a bid, click here.

PEN International has called for the protection of civilians, an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and an end to the siege of Gaza (see here). They have also condemned the systematic violations of freedom of expression across the world, and especially in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, since October 7 (read more here).

Cultural workers from major theatres and arts venues across London walked out on strike on 29 November as part of the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with Palestine. Organised by an independent group of cultural workers from various institutions, the workers called on all arts and cultural organisations to end their silence on the war in Palestine and join the calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire.

Sphere, a worldwide humanitarian community, had this to say about the conflict: ‘Sphere condemns the mass killings, summary executions, hostage-taking, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including the wanton destruction of health and medical facilities, schools, and homes.’ For their full statement, and a myriad of other responses from humanitarian practitioners on the conflict in Gaza and Israel, please click here.
EURORESO Award 2023: Call for Initiatives

Our friends at EURORESO, an international non-profit association with a scientific and educational purpose, are seeking submissions for the EURORESO Award 2023. The topic for this year’s award is New skills for a better future.

They are looking for projects and initiatives that:
  • help people get new skills for quality jobs
  • foster skills development for more sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and fair societies
  • are innovative and use new technologies
EURORESO are interested in receiving applications from projects that incorporate the use of arts and creativity, digital innovation, and other new technologies.

In order to be nominated for the EURORESO Award, candidates should be residents of EU, EEA countries, or other countries with EURORESO members. They can be individuals, public bodies, or private companies. It is necessary that they have made a significant contribution in the fields of the topic chosen annually by the selection committee.

Why apply?
The winner, selected by a jury, will be awarded a sum of 500 Euro. The award will be given at the EURORESO General Assembly in April 2024 in Belgrade, Serbia, which represents a great opportunity in terms of publicity and the promotion of your best practice. Travel and subsistence costs will be covered.

Submit your project/initiative to the EURORESO Awards by 31 January, 2024 by completing the award submission form (click here to access the formand sending it to

To view the full Call for Initiatives, click here, while the Awards Procedure can be read here. More information about EURORESO can be found here.
Rotterdam Turns Orange to Protest Violence Against Women

Violence against women is unacceptable and must stop. According to Eurostat data, one woman is murdered every eight days in the Netherlands, and six out of every ten dead women are killed by the woman’s husband, boyfriend, or ex-partner. That is why Rotterdam once more raised the Orange the World flag on Friday, November 24, 2023, when various buildings turned orange. The Orange the World period will continue until December 10, on which various social partners, together with the municipality of Rotterdam, take action against the insecurity of women: from sexual street harassment to femicide. Smashing Times’ regular European partner Dona Daria campaigns online and in the streets for this massively important cause. Special attention is paid to the hand gesture as a signal of domestic violence. Read more here on Dona Daria’s website (and select the English translation if necessary).
Landmark Productions’ Theatre for One Open for Applications

This public call-out for emerging playwrights sees Landmark Productions invite submissions for Theatre for One, a state-of-the-art performance space for one actor and one audience member at a time. Conceived and created by the Tony and Olivier award-winning designer Christine Jones, and designed by LOT-EK, it commissions new work specifically for this unique space. In June 2019, Landmark Productions and Octopus Theatricals presented the European premiere of Theatre for One, under the auspices of Cork Midsummer Festival and Cork Opera House. The premiere featured original five-minute plays by six of Ireland’s leading playwrights: Marina Carr, Stacey Gregg, Emmet Kirwan, Louise Lowe, Mark O’Rowe, and Enda Walsh.

Now, it’s your turn. In summer 2024, Landmark Productions and Octopus Theatricals join forces once again with Cork Midsummer Festival and Cork Opera House to commission six emerging Irish playwrights to write original five-minute plays. Each of the selected playwrights will receive mentorship from one of the original writers featured in 2019. In June 2024, Theatre for One: This Ireland – twelve plays (six from the original writers and six from the public call-out) – will be presented together at Cork Midsummer Festival. The plays will be presented in a specially-designed, state-of-the-art theatre booth for one actor and one audience member at a time, located on the plaza outside Cork Opera House. The deadline is 6pm, 18 December, 2023. Click here for further details and to apply.

Grants and Opportunities

For writers, artists, and creators
Culture Ireland Regular Funding

Culture Ireland offers support to Irish professional artists, arts organisations, and international presenters to present work by Irish artists at significant international venues and festivals. Applications for funding to present work internationally from 15 February, 2024 onwards must be submitted by the deadline, 1 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Arts Council Creative Europe Co-Funding Award

Strand 1: Co-Funding Award for Creative Europe Cooperation Projects commencing in 2024. The primary purpose of Strand 1 of this award is to enable Irish organisations that have secured funding, either as lead co-ordinator or partner, for artistic activities under the Cooperation Projects strands of the Creative Europe Programme 2021-27, to apply for co-funding. Funding will be considered to support Irish arts activities that align with the objectives and priorities of this award.

Strand 2: Co-Funding Award for Partner Meetings in preparation for Creative Europe Cooperation Project applications. The primary purpose of this strand is to enable Irish organisations to apply for support towards meetings with potential European partners in preparation for applications to the Cooperation Projects strand of the Creative Europe Programme 2021-2027.

The deadline is 7 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
ilDÁNA 2023/2024

TG4 and the Arts Council are delighted to announce a new season of ilDÁNA 2023/2024. ilDÁNA is designed to enhance the TG4 schedule by supporting the making of ambitious and cinematic long-form documentaries on the arts in Irish. This year we wish to fund the making of two feature-length landmark documentary films, each with a budget of up to €135,000. It is our intention that one of the two documentaries will give expression to inclusivity and diversity in the arts and actively involve new and under-represented voices. Submissions for landmark miniseries will also be considered on an exceptional basis. The deadline is 11 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Job Opportunities and Tenders

Executive Director, Dublin Fringe Festival

Dublin Fringe Festival is thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity for a dynamic and forward-thinking individual to join their team as the Executive Director. This is a new and pivotal role within the organisation, and they are seeking a creative powerhouse to shape the future of one of Ireland’s most vibrant and cutting-edge multidisciplinary arts festivals. The deadline is 1 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Maritime Events Manager, Ocean to City & Cork Harbour Festival

Meitheal Mara, Cork’s community boatyard and maritime training centre, wishes to recruit an experienced events manager for the annual Ocean to City: An Ras Mór and Cork Harbour Festival. The deadline is 7 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Step Up Dance Project 2024, Dance Limerick

Step Up Dance Project is a programme of professional development for recent dance graduates or equivalent early-career dance professionals in partnership between the Arts Council, Dance Limerick, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, and Dance Ireland. Step Up is looking for five dancers born or resident in Ireland who are interested in being part of a paid professional development programme. The deadline is 12 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Studios and Gallery Manager, Custom House Studios, Co. Mayo
The Board of the Custom House Studios Ltd invites applications for the position of Manager from exceptional candidates with a proven track record in cultural management. The deadline is 15 December, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Call for Artists, European Digital Deal

The European Digital Deal calls on artists interested in exploring the deep entanglement between new technologies and democracy to apply for one of 12 residencies. Artists are invited to investigate a range of topics, from the notion of truth in the information age shaped by algorithms, biases in AI, techno-anxiety, and the digital divides arising as a result of digitalisation to new forms of surveillance, intelligence, living, citizenship, or work. The deadline is 30 November, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
That’s all for now. Our theme next month is ‘Strength in Disability’, with the newsletter going out on 21 December, the winter solstice. For that edition, we are welcoming artist submissions exclusively from people with disabilities. We will also be accepting news items relating to you or your organisation’s recent work, event, or activity in the areas of the arts, human rights, equality, or social justice. Please keep an eye on our website and social media for more information on how and what to submit.

Slán go fóill,

Féilim Ó Brádaigh and Niamh Clowry