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Amid Rising Nationalism, Germany’s Green Party Politicians Call for Artistic Freedom

Two members of Germany’s Green Party have created an online petition that warns of the rise of right-wing national governments and calls for artistic freedom in the country and throughout Europe.

Titled “The Brussels Declaration,” the petition points to recent developments in Austria, Hungary, and Poland and charges the countries’ governments with “trying to direct the creative scene toward their own ends with a policy of national isolation.”

According to the organizers of the petition, Erhard Grundl and Claudia Roth, the cultural landscape is being threatened. The right-wing Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), which has been perceived as a threat to arts and culture in the country since it entered parliament last fall, has already declared that it wants to “tackle the desecration of the [country’s] cultural industry.”

The document also accuses Viktor Orbán’s nationalist reign in Hungary of only financially supporting art that is “ideologically in line” with the populist Fidesz Party. It also calls out Poland's right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) for coercing leaders and cultural institutions that don’t align with their ideas and claims that Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), “refuses to hold any talks with elected representatives of the art, culture and media professionals since he took office.” 

“Culture is created through exchange, not through isolation,” the petition reads. “It must be defended, cultural participation promoted, and the social protection of artists improved. . . . We fight for the freedom of art!”

Since the petition was published on on Friday, it has been signed by nearly forty thousand people. Signatories of the petition include Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation; Olaf Zimmermann, the executive director of the German Culture Council; writer Hape Kerkeling; and choreographer Sasha Waltz.