More than 300 musicians, filmmakers, photographers, artists, designers, actors and other guests gathered at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk on July 11, 2012 to celebrate freedom of artistic expression, a liberty that people never stop yearning for, as Charge d’Affaires Michael Scanlan said at the opening of the event. This year’s event continued the Embassy tradition of hosting the annual music festival Ambasovishcha, which for a number of years had provided talented Belarusian musicians, who are restricted from performing due to their political views or active social position, an opportunity to perform in their home country.
CDA Scanlan stated that, during his three years’ tenure in Belarus, he had hoped that each such solidarity event would be the last and that “blacklists, bans on concerts, and canceled exhibitions for so-called technical reasons would fade into oblivion.”
Having changed its format to reflect the growing pressure on other cultural genres, this year’s event featured, in addition to musical groups of various genres, several artistic exhibitions and showcased a documentary about the challenges that Belarusian musicians and other artistic personalities continue to face. Such restrictions are “incomprehensible for a country in the center of Europe in the third millennium,” added CDA Scanlan.