Dear Colleagues, 

The world is sadly aware of the events in Afghanistan and of the danger faced by women, girls, journalists, and all those who helped the Americans during the war. Less visible is the danger faced in Afghanistan by musicians of all ages, and the Taliban’s history of denying the human right of access to music and music-making. 

A number of media stories outlined the terrible dangers faced by Afghan musicians, and progress made toward ensuring their safety. These articles have focused on the closing of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul, an organization with which the League of American Orchestras has a relationship, and whose musicians have inspired global audiences. On December 13, 2021, all 273 members of ANIM arrived safely in Lisbon, Portugal, where the institute will be reestablished.

Reuters (12/14/21)
New York Times (11/17/21)
Washington Post (10/10/21)
New York Times (10/3/21)
Wall Street Journal (10/4/21)
Associated Press (10/4/21)
National Public Radio (10/4/21)
Reuters (10/4/21)
CNN International (8/31/21) 
Amanpour & Co (8/30/21)

While members of ANIM are now moved to safety, there is more to be done to support both the future of ANIM and the broader community of musicians remaining in Afghanistan. A natural response is “How can we help?” The League has asked that question of itself, too, and is actively engaged with music organizations worldwide working to support music rights for the people of Afghanistan.

In the short term, there are three main ways that individuals and organizations can help: 

  1. Learn more about the young musicians of Afghanistan by visiting anim-music.org
  2. Help spread the word through your communications channels of the plight of Afghan musicians by reposting articles such as the ones above. Please tag with these hashtags on social media:


  3. Donate to “Friends of ANIM,” the official US-based nonprofit organization supporting the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) at this link, and ask others to do the same.

    About ANIM: A 501(c)(3) non-profit, the institution provides unparalleled music education to youths of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, establishing music as a human right and sharing the rich cultural history of Afghanistan with the next generation.

Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast, Founder and Director of ANIM, is tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support, and has said this: 

“I ask for us to work together to ensure that ANIM and other Afghan musicians will have their musical rights respected and the freedom to continue to share their unique cultural heritage with music-lovers around the world.  

“ANIM is committed to ensuring the musical rights of Afghan children, promoting musical diversity in Afghanistan, transcending cultural ethnic, religious and gender barriers, and transforming the lives of Afghan children.  

“Music education and performance is vital in rebuilding a war-torn country and contributing to the establishment of a just and civil society.”

Thank you for taking the time for whatever help and support you can provide. We will continue to keep you informed of ways you can help. 

With best wishes, 

Simon Woods

Simon Woods
President and CEO
League of American Orchestras 

* Originally published 8/25/2021, last updated 12/14/2021

Photo credit: World Economic Forum

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