Artists and rights activists are pushing the Cuban government to change a law that they fear will hurt creativity and increase censorship.

The law is to take effect next month. It bars artists and musicians from "providing their services" in any place open to the public, including privately owned spaces, without first getting government approval.

The Cuban government in 2010 adopted a reform measure to require government approval only for state-run places. Since then, artists and musicians have presented their work in private as part of a wider push for economic, social, and political reforms in Cuba.

Artists and musicians have been able to produce more work and expand their offerings, with increased internet access and greater freedom to travel. But that has also made it harder for the government to collect taxes and oversee their works.

The new law worries some independent artists, who fear they will not be able to get state approval. That could cost them their livelihood.

Luis Puerta is an artist who has supported his family by selling his paintings in private. He told the Reuters news service, "I never thought of emigrating before, but now I am."
Luis Puerta是一位艺术家,他通过私下出售他的画作养家糊口。他对路透社表示:“我以前从未考虑过移民,但现在我开始考虑了。”

Some believe the new law will prevent artists from speaking out. Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara describes himself as an "artivist." The word is a combination of artist and activist. He said, "This is a measure of repression because you won't get government approval if you are not within the socialist ideology."
有人认为这项新法律会阻止艺术家发声。Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara自称为一名“艺行者。”这个单词是艺术家和活动家的结合。他说:“这是一定程度上的镇压,因为如果你不符合社会形态,就没法得到政府的批准。”

Otero Alcantara has led a campaign against the measure. On social media, he and other artists have described it as a "law that converts art into a crime." He and others have also hosted performances to protest the measure. They also have sent letters to Cuban officials.
Otero Alcantara领导了一项反对该措施的运动。他和其他艺术家在社交媒体上将其描述为“一项将艺术变为犯罪的法律。”他和其他人也通过举办表演来抗议这项措施。他们还给古巴官员写去了信件。

Marco Castillo, an artist with Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters), said the law "would be a painful return to a gray, anti-cultural past of censorship."
Marco Castillo隶属于木匠艺术组织,他称这项法律“将会是过往灰色的、反文化的审查制度的一次痛苦回归。”

He was talking about the early 1970s, when the Cuban government persecuted artists for what it said was a lack of support for the Revolution. The government later apologized for the treatment.

The Cuban government did not answer a request for comment from Reuters. State-run media reports say that Decree 349, as the law is known, aims to prevent tax avoidance and the spread of art done in bad taste or created to "incite public disorder."

Is the protest working?

There are signs that the artists are making their voices heard.

Amnesty International has backed their campaign against the law. The organization warned that the law could be used broadly to crack down on dissent.

The European Union also raised concerns about the law during recent talks with Cuba on human rights.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reported this month that the culture minister would work with artists to revise the law.

I'm Jonathan Evans.