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The panel discussion on the sale of the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) presented on October 24th in New York City and organized by the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) raised many of the issues that characteristically surround a major art museum situated and owned by an economically ailing major city: economic necessity and the economic divide; the professional responsibilities of the state, the city, and the museum staff and board; the test of the concept of works of art held in the public trust; the politics of a Republican governor and a liberal African American city; moral responsibilities of museums and their communities; the nature of the intent of art donors and the future of gifts to museums; and the expectation that major donors and foundations should solve the city’s bankrupt state.  The speakers were Graham Beal, Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts; Sam Sachs, former director of the Detroit Institute of Arts and President of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; Frank Robinson, retired Director, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; and Richard Levin, Partner & Head of Restructuring Practice, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.

The DIA has become the central issue in the media of the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy. The museum’s rocky economic history with the city and the state was presented by past director Sam Sachs. The museum was founded in 1885 by a group of private citizens called the Founders Society. As early as 1919 the Founders merged with the City by ceding the collections in return for city-supported maintenance. Over the years the city support decreased and the Founders sought assistance from the state. That support reached a high point of $17 million in 1985. By 1991 the state support was cut in half. In 1997 the museum was reprivatized so that the city retained the collections that were supported through city funds but most other support was provided by the Founders Society.

The irony of this present controversy is that the DIA has never been in better fiscal shape nor has its audience, thanks to new educational initiatives, been so diverse. The DIA raised $360 million in the past few years and in 2012 three suburban counties adjacent to Detroit approved a tax to support the operating costs of the museum for the next 10 years. However, the counties have already publicly stated that they would withdraw this support if the DIA’s collection is sold. According to Beal, this would essentially cause the closure of the museum.

The museum director, board members, administrative staff and lawyer have been prevented from meeting with the governor, the emergency manager or the attorney general of Michigan, who has already issued the decision that the DIA is a public trust and cannot be sold. A proposal to shift the ownership of the DIA from the city to the state has been blocked by the state legislature. Thus, the DIA leaders have been, as Beal said, “treated with disdain” by those in political power and have had to rely on the media and hearsay for information. The only contact they have had with the emergency manager’s office was his request for an inventory of the collections. When the DIA complied with a 1,640-page list of objects in the collection (using 10-point type and single-spaced formatting) the emergency manager’s office realized the complexity of the issue.

The DIA legal counsel, Richard Levin, made it clear that, according to municipal bankruptcy law, the state, not the federal government, has authority. In this case, the governor of Michigan appointed an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to oversee the city’s finances; he is the sole decision-maker on the preparation of a plan to sell assets, pay creditors and bring the city back to solvency. The current court case in the Eastern District Court of Michigan that was brought by the unions and pension fund managers questions the validity of declaring bankruptcy in the first place. The governor, attorney general and emergency manager will be called to testify. Levin emphasized that municipal bankruptcy proceedings usually go into settlements and that the settlements take so long that, “the patient usually dies on the operating table,” and as Beal stated, “a dead DIA is exactly the opposite of putting the city back on a good course.” The Oakland County manager, Brooks Patterson, told Beal that in order to attract corporations and investors to their county in competition with other major cities like Boston and Chicago, he talks about the one asset that downtown has, which is the DIA.

In the meantime, Christie’s appraisers continue to assign dollar values to works of art at the DIA. Their work will be completed soon. The accuracy of their valuation was questioned by an audience member, given the fact that many of the masterworks have not changed hands in many generations and there are no comparable figures to rely on. And the concept of a swift auction of hundreds, if not thousands, of works of art is unrealistic. Ultimately, the proceeds from such a sale would satisfy only a small percentage of the city’s debt.

Audience members asked what they could do to assist the situation. The petition that originated with Jeffrey Hamburger at Harvard University still is being circulated and IFAR asked that people sign it. CAA has circulated this electronic petition to members and it remains on the CAA website for those interested in signing it. Beal would prefer to absent the DIA from the center of this controversy since there are several other possibilities of relieving the city’s debt. The last rumor that Beal heard was that the emergency manager has taken the collections off the bankruptcy table.  Meanwhile the work of a great museum continues.


Graham W. J. Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, wrote that Gene Gargaro, the DIA’s chair of the board, has had three meetings with the emergency manager’s lawyer and the restructuring specialist. The first meeting was with Gargaro alone, the second with Beal and the museum’s top attorney, and the third with the DIA’s chief operating officer, top lawyer, and bankruptcy adviser (panelist Rich Levin). The tenor of the meetings was driven by the emergency manager’s people’s persistent demand that DIA come up with about $500 million.

New NHA Memo to Members

posted by Linda Downs

The executive director of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) sent the following email on October 25, 2013.

New NHA Memo to Members

Dear NHA Member Representatives,

I am writing with the first edition of NHA’s new Memo to Members. Please click here for:

  • a legislative update that includes a discussion of Senator Sessions’ recent letter to Acting NEH Chair Carole Watson;
  • follow-up to the Commission on the Humanities and Social Science’s The Heart of the Matter;
  • resources for advocates;
  • studies, reports, and initiatives pertaining to the humanities;
  • a compendium of humanities news articles and essays;
  • federal grant opportunities; and
  • upcoming humanities policy and advocacy events.

We hope that this monthly memo will provide you with tools to aid your advocacy efforts and help you and your organization stay abreast of policy and advocacy news. If you have information to to suggest for a future edition, please contact Erin Mosley at

Click here to download the briefing in pdf.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Washington, DC, turned a spotlight on the urgent need to refocus the country on maintaining national excellence in the humanities and social sciences—and how failure to do so will have consequences at home and abroad for the future of American education, security, and competitiveness.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and David Price (D-NC) came together on Capitol Hill this morning to accept a report, prepared at their request, by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Today’s release of the report, titled The Heart of the Matter, launches a national conversation about the importance of the humanities and social sciences to America’s future. Presented by the commission’s cochairs—Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John Rowe, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Exelon Corporation—the report looks at the vital role of the humanities and social sciences in preparing and sustaining Americans for the responsibility of productive citizenship in the United States and the world.

The Heart of the Matter focuses on five areas of concern: K–12 education; two- and four-year colleges; research; cultural institutions and lifelong learning; and international security and competitiveness. It also makes recommendations to achieve three goals:

1. Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy:

  • Invest in the preparation of citizens with a thorough grounding in history, civics, and social studies
  • Increase access to online resources, including teaching materials

2. Foster an innovative, competitive, and strong society:

  • To ensure the vibrancy of humanities and social-science programs at all levels, philanthropists, states, and the federal government should significantly increase funding designated for these purposes
  • Create a Humanities Master Teacher Corps to complement the STEM Master Teacher Corps recently proposed by the White House

3. Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world:

  • Develop a “Culture Corps” that would match interested adults (retirees, veterans, artists, library and museum personnel) with schools, community centers, and other organizations to transmit humanistic and social-scientific expertise from one generation to the next
  • Expand education in international affairs and transnational studies

“The American character is defined not by ethnicity—Americans come from many countries, races, religions, and cultures—but by a common set of ideals and principles that unite us as a country,” said Senator Alexander. “Those ideals and principles have always been shared and learned through the study of history, philosophy, and literature, but today their study is at risk. This report is a first step to highlighting the importance of, and ensuring a future for, our nation’s humanities education—and our unique American character as well.”

Senator Warner added, “I commend all the members of the commission for their hard work on The Heart of the Matter. Having a strong knowledge of civics, comprehensive reading and writing skills, and an appreciation of history are important for a well-rounded member of the twenty-first-century world. We must use this report as a foundation to continue to engage with the public on how best to keep our humanities and social sciences robust.”

Congressman Petri noted, “Knowledge and promotion of the humanities and social sciences are absolutely important so that citizens have a firm understanding of our nation’s unique history, culture, and heritage. I hope the recommendations in this report will be seriously considered to improve the teaching and understanding of the humanities and social sciences.”

“The humanities and social sciences help us understand where we’ve come from and who we are as a people, and that understanding points us toward the endeavors we must undertake to help every person reach their full potential,” said Representative Price. “Studies in these areas are critically important to a well-rounded education and the future of our country. This report comes at a crucial moment, and I hope it will help raise the profile of the humanities, provide a better understanding of their value, and spur a national conversation about how the humanities and social sciences keep our nation strong and competitive.”

“Today’s leaders in business, government, the military, and diplomacy must be able to analyze, interpret, communicate, and understand other cultures,” said Brodhead, cochair of the commission. “This report will remind Americans that a broad-based and balanced education, integrating the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences, is the best way to equip our citizens to approach the complex problems of our rapidly changing world.”

“The humanities and social sciences comprise many of the things that give life meaning,” said commission cochair Rowe, “both at the highest level and in our day-to-day activities. They need more public and private support and compared to other things a little money goes a long way.”

A short companion film, The Heart of the Matter, from the Emmy Award–winning Ewers Brothers Productions was also released today. Appearing in the film are the producer, screenwriter, and director George Lucas, the actor John Lithgow, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a steadfast supporter of the humanities and arts in this country, provided primary funding for the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Carnegie Corporation of New York also provided important funding.

The views expressed in the report are those of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences and not necessarily those of the officers and fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

What do we know about the 2.1 million artists in the United States’ labor force? To help answer that question, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released Equal Opportunity Data Mining: National Statistics about Working Artists. This new online research tool offers seventy searchable tables with figures on working artists by state and metropolitan area, by demographic information (including race and ethnicity, age, gender, and disability status), and by residence and workplace. The public is welcome to investigate the tables, a map of state-level rankings, and links to original sources.

“Artists represent just 1.4 percent of the labor force, but they have an outsized role as entrepreneurs and innovators who contribute to the vitality of the communities where they live and work,” said the NEA’s acting chairman, Joan Shigekawa. “These data add further detail and nuance to our understanding of the profile of American artists.”

This new research resource gives statistical profiles of Americans who reported an artist occupation as their primary job, whether full-time, part-time, or self-employed. The data set looks at artists in eleven distinct occupations: actors; announcers; architects; art directors, fine artists, and animators; dancers and choreographers; designers; entertainers and performers; musicians; photographers; producers and directors; and writers and authors. Some tables offer data on employed artists in particular, while other tables measure all artists in the workforce, both employed and looking for work.

The NEA created these data sets based on the US Census Bureau’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tables. Every ten years, the Census Bureau produces EEO tables using data from its annual American Community Survey (ACS). This set of EEO tables is drawn from the ACS survey results for 2006–10, which were combined to obtain a large enough sample. The EEO tables are the federal standard for comparing the race, ethnicity, and gender composition of the labor market in specific geographic areas and job categories.

Equal Opportunity Data Mining is the first installment of a series of Arts Data Profile webpages that the NEA will release over the next several months. Future NEA Arts Data Profiles will introduce public data about arts participation and arts organizations, and additional data on artists in the workforce.

Some findings that emerge from the EEO tables include:

  • One-fourth of all American architects are women. Yet in Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington, the share is roughly one-third. By contrast, in Arkansas, West Virginia, and Wyoming, nearly all architects are men
  • Nationally, 4 percent of all artists are disabled, compared with 6 percent of the labor force. At 7 percent, the share of dancers and musicians with a disability is somewhat higher. The percentage of working musicians with a disability is comparatively high in Alaska (25 percent), Alabama (14 percent), Kentucky (16 percent), and Wisconsin (13 percent)
  • In Oregon, 40 percent of working actors are African American, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, or other, while these ethnic and racial groups make up only 20 percent of the total Oregon labor force
  • Roughly one-quarter of musicians working in Nashville commute to the city from outside areas. For example, an estimated one hundred musicians commute thirteen miles from Hendersonville (Sumner County); twenty musicians commute from Franklin, and an additional sixty-five musicians commute to Nashville from other parts of Williamson County

The research tool also includes a video tutorial, links to additional resources (such as the US Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder page), and surveys and databases from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more than thirty years, the NEA has been the only federal agency to use US Census data to analyze artists in the workforce. The NEA seeks to extend the conversation on arts research through commissioned research, direct research grants, and research convenings to encourage more rigorous research on the impact of the arts in other domains of American life, such as education, health and well-being, community livability, and economic prosperity. Recent endeavors include a landmark partnership between the NEA and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis to develop an Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account that will identify and calculate the arts and culture sector’s contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The NEA has convened seventeen federal agencies in the NEA Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, to foster more research on the arts’ role in improving health and educational outcomes throughout the lifespan. Just published, Creative Communities from Brookings Institution Press is based on a first-ever convening between the NEA and the Brookings Institution on the arts and economic development.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

NEH Chairman Jim Leach Announces Resignation

posted by Linda Downs

Jim Leach announced today that he is leaving his post as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). His resignation is effective the first week of May.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have become associated with an agency that plays such a critical role in humanities research and public programming,” he said. “America needs an infrastructure of ideas as well as bridges, and no institution over the past half century has done more to strengthen the idea base of our democracy than the NEH. The humanities are an essential corollary to the nation’s increasing focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”

Under Leach’s leadership, the agency created a Bridging Cultures program designed to promote understanding and mutual respect for diverse groups within the United States and abroad. As part of this effort, the NEH supported programs designed to expand citizen understanding of American history and values, the civil rights movement, and foreign cultures.

In addition, the agency helped launch a National Digital Public Library to establish a unified gateway to digital collections of books, artworks, and artifacts from libraries, museums, and other cultural sites across the country. He presided over the culmination of decades-long projects such as the publication of the Autobiography of Mark Twain and the Dictionary of American Regional English.

Leach is the ninth NEH chairman. Prior to being named to the post in August 2009, he was a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and interim director of the Institute of Politics and lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  From 1977 to 2007, he represented Iowa in the House of Representatives, where he chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Carole Watson, NEH deputy chairman, will be the acting head of the endowment until a permanent replacement is nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Image: Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (photograph by Greg Powers and Audrey Crewe)

Register for 2013 Advocacy Days

posted by Linda Downs

CAA encourages you to register and take part in three upcoming events this winter and spring in Washington, DC: Arts Advocacy Day, Humanities Advocacy Day, and Museums Advocacy Day. At each, participants meet their senators and representatives in person to advocate increased federal support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Previous lobbying experience isn’t necessary. Training sessions and practice talks take place the day before the main events—that’s why, for example, Arts Advocacy Day is actually two days, not one. Participants are also prepped on the critical issues and the range of funding requested of Congress to support these federal agencies. It is at these training sessions where you meet—and network with—other advocates from your states. The main sponsoring organization for each event makes congressional appointments for you.

You may have mailed a letter or sent a prewritten email to your congressperson or senator before, but legislators have an algorithm of interest for pressing issues, in which a personal visit tops all other forms of communication. As citizen lobbyists, it’s also important to have a few specific examples about how arts funding has affected you: don’t be afraid to name-drop major cultural institutions—such as your city’s best-known museum or nonprofit art center—in your examples of why the visual arts matter in your state.

If you cannot attend the three advocacy days in person, please send an email or fax to your representatives expressing your concern about continued and increased funding for the visual arts. If you don’t know your representative or senators, you can look them up at

Museums Advocacy Day

Join fellow advocates in Washington, DC, for Museums Advocacy Day, taking place February 25–26, 2013, and help make the case that museums are essential—as education providers and economic drivers—in every community. If museums are not at the table, they could be on the table. Registration is open through January 25.

Humanities Advocacy Day

Registration for the annual meeting of the National Humanities Alliance (March 18) and Humanities Advocacy Day (March 19) will help you to connect with a growing network of humanities leaders, to communicate the value of the humanities to members of Congress, and to become a year-round advocate for the humanities. The advance deadline for registration is January 31, 2013.

Arts Advocacy Day

The 2012 election made a dramatic impact on Congress, with more than eighty new members taking office this month. The House and Senate will renew the focus on reducing the federal deficit and creating jobs, and it is imperative that arts advocates work together to craft a policy agenda that supports the nonprofit arts sector and arts education. CAA encourages you to register for Arts Advocacy Day, which takes place April 8–9, 2013, in Washington, DC, to help the cause. Register by the advance deadline to participate: March 25, 2013.

The CAA Board of Directors has endorsed a policy paper, released on September 19, 2012, which calls for increased funding for the arts and humanities, among other subjects.

Calls for Strengthening Partnership between Federal Government and Research Universities

The Association of American Universities (AAU) today proposed for the next Administration a detailed agenda for strengthening the partnership between the federal government and the nation’s research universities as a means of fostering innovation, prosperity, and economic growth.

The paper also lists steps that universities need to take to strengthen the partnership and improve the ways they carry out their missions of education, research, and public service.

AAU will provide the policy paper, entitled “Partnering for a Prosperous and Secure Future: The Federal Government and Research Universities,” to both major Presidential campaigns.

For some of its key proposals, the paper relies on the recent National Research Council (NRC) report, “Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security.” AAU is an association of leading public and private research universities that focuses on national and institutional issues important to research-intensive universities, including funding for research, research and education policy, and graduate and undergraduate education.

The policy paper issued today provides recommendations for government and for universities in the following areas:

Addressing the nation’s fiscal challenge. The report calls for “a balanced approach that seriously and thoughtfully addresses entitlement programs, which are a primary source of long-term spending growth, and incorporates substantial tax reform that is designed both to encourage economic growth and to raise revenues needed to reduce the deficit.”

Cultivating human capital by strengthening access to college. The report calls on the federal government to sustain vital student aid programs, especially Pell Grants, and ensure that student loan programs encourage sound borrowing and manageable repayment plans. It also emphasizes the importance of universities controlling costs while sustaining educational quality, providing appropriate institutional financial aid, and ensuring transparency about costs as well as financial aid.

Attracting and developing talent by strengthening graduate and STEM education and reforming immigration laws. To strengthen graduate education, the report calls on universities to become more efficient by increasing completion rates and reducing time-to-degree and to strengthen pathways for students in a broad range of careers, not only in academia. It calls on government to adopt career development initiatives designed to supplement and expand fellowships and traineeships.

The report notes AAU’s five-year initiative to strengthen undergraduate education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and urges government to encourage such initiatives.

The paper also calls for comprehensive immigration reform as well as specific reforms designed to “turn immigrant talent into American talent,” including establishing a clear pathway to citizenship for advanced STEM degree graduates from US colleges and universities; enacting a version of the DREAM Act to help make it possible for children whose parents brought them to the US to attend college; and gradually replacing the seven-percent-per-country cap limitation for employment-based green cards with a first-come, first-serve system for qualified, highly skilled immigrants.

Fostering new ideas and discoveries. The report urges the next Administration to follow through on the NRC’s recommendations for sustaining federal support of basic research, including full funding of the America COMPETES Act. It also expresses support for allocating research funds by merit review as well as for sustained funding of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ensuring a regulatory and legal framework that encourages innovation. The association calls for regulatory reform to simplify and make more efficient the regulatory framework governing federal research and higher education programs. It also urges maintaining the current legal framework for university technology transfer, as set forth by the Bayh-Dole Act; developing proof-of-concept and gap funding programs that would support the translation of ideas generated with federally funded research into viable commercial products; and rejecting proposals that would allow faculty to be “free agents” and directly commercialize federal research results. To further promote innovation, AAU calls for legislation to encourage federal research agencies to build and interconnect public-access repositories of peer-reviewed articles developed from the research they fund. The association also advocates policies that support expanding public access to both domestic and international research repositories.

Encouraging other sources of support for research universities. The policy document calls for federal initiatives to encourage states to live up to their obligation to support public higher education, including federal-state matches that require maintenance of effort by states. The report also calls for extending and improving tax policies that aid students and families in financing higher education, particularly permanent extension of the American Opportunity Tax Credit and its consolidation with the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the deduction for undergraduate education. The report also calls for the preservation of strong tax incentives for charitable giving.

About AAU

The Association of American Universities is an association of sixty-one leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. AAU focuses on issues important to research-intensive universities, such as funding for research, research policy issues, and graduate and undergraduate education. AAU universities award over one-half of all US doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering. They are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to our nation’s economy, security, and well-being.

Recent CAA Advocacy

posted by Christopher Howard

CAA’s advocacy efforts this year addressed a wide range of issues of critical importance to the visual arts, from the necessity of artists to have affordable health-insurance options, to the ethical treatment of animals in works of art, to the ins and outs of copyright law and museum practices. Below is a summary of eleven issues to which CAA has been committed during the past twelve months.

In June 2011, CAA filed an amicus brief in the case of Golan v. Holder, which the United States Supreme Court began hearing in October. The issue raised in Golan v. Holder is whether Congress, after enacting the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994, could legally remove tens of thousands—if not millions—of foreign works from the public domain and bring them back into copyright. Consistent with the First Amendment, the brief argued that those works should remain freely available. On January 18, 2012, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s previous decision, 6–2. In short, foreign works formerly in the public domain in the US can have their copyrighted status reinstated.

In December 2011, CAA signed onto a statement from the Association of Art Museum Directors that opposed the pending sale of a fifty percent stake in the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2005 the school had been attempting to sell the collection, donated by Georgia O’Keeffe (who specified that it never be sold or broken up). “Such an action,” stated the letter, “would violate a core professional standard of AAMD and of the museum field, which prohibit[s] the use of funds from the sale of works of art for purposes other than building an institution’s collection.” Nevertheless, the Tennessee Supreme court did not block the sale to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, on April 25, 2012. The university and museum will share the collection on a three-year rotating basis, with the museum helping to conserve the collection.

CAA board and staff members represented the organization at two events this spring in Washington, DC: Anne Collins Goodyear, then-incoming board president, and Linda Downs, CAA executive director and chief executive officer, attended Humanities Advocacy Day in March; and Judith Thorpe, an outgoing board member, and Helen Bayer, CAA marketing and communications associate, went to Arts Advocacy Day in April. The goal of both days was to support continued federal funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and to articulate to Congress the vital importance of the humanities and the arts in higher education. The National Humanities Alliance’s annual meeting coincided with Humanities Advocacy Day. Goodyear and Downs have offered a summary of this important event.

At the request of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), CAA investigated the use of homing pigeons in Jon Rubin’s interactive artwork, Thinking about Flying (2012), on view this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado. The piece invites museum visitors to take home a bird, placed in a cardboard box, for a day before releasing it, so that it may fly back to the museum. CAA confirmed the humanitarian treatment of the birds by the artist and museum and notified PETA of the findings.

In April, CAA investigated the complaint raised by several artists who lent work to the 2010 World Festival of Black Artists and Cultures in Senegal that was not returned due to a dispute with an art shipper in Dakar. CAA determined that the situation did not need the organization’s assistance.

Michael Fahlund, CAA deputy director, testified on behalf of the organization at an oversight hearing convened by New York City’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations on January 25, 2012, regarding increasing access to affordable health insurance for artists. Even though CAA is an international organization, its office is in the state of New York; presently the healthcare industry is regulated state by state. Fahlund proposed that CAA be given “employer status” in relation to its members living in New York State in order to provide health-insurance options for them. The committee’s discussions are ongoing.

CAA monitored a federal bill, the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699), that was introduced in the US House of Representatives on December 16, 2011, by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and cosponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)— chairman and member, respectively, of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The legislation would prohibit federal agencies from mandating free access to scholarly articles submitted to a scientific or scholarly publication without the consent of the publisher. This act primarily addresses science and technology publications but, if enacted, could affect art and humanities publications as well. Many learned societies who are publishers oppose the legislation, and CAA board members have begun discussing the issue and are paying close attention to the legislation’s development.

Representing CAA, Fahlund contributed his expertise to a National Coalition Against Censorship committee that developed Museum Best Practices for Managing Controversy, published in May. The document offers guidance for institutions to turn controversial situations into learning experiences for their public. The committee comprised representatives from the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Art Museum Curators, Columbia University, Arizona State University, the University of Washington, and the New School. CAA’s Museum Committee is reviewing the guideline and will present it for adoption at the CAA board meeting on October 28, 2012.

Fahlund also worked with a liability insurance broker, Herbert L. Jamison and Co. LLC, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies, and with two CAA members, Barbara Buhler Lynes and Nancy Mowll Mathews, to establish comprehensive, affordable liability insurance for art historians and artists who authenticate works of art. Such insurance would help defend against a damaging financial loss that could occur from alleged mistakes or negligence. CAA does not administer the insurance but acts as a referral to the insurance company; in a brief article from this past January, Fahlund offers helpful loss-prevention tips for the art professional to avoid potential workplace liabilities.

Last month CAA signed onto a letter from the Association of Art Museum Directors sent to Congress, urging legislators to pass the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (S. 2212), a proposed law that would shield a loaned work of art from a non-US collection from being seized by anyone with a claim to legal ownership while the art is on display in the country. According to the letter, the US has “long provided the crucial legal protection that helps make loans from foreign museums possible” through the Department of State, until a 2004–8 lawsuit involving heirs of Kasimir Malevich and the City of Amsterdam weakened those protections. The House passed the bill (H.R. 4086), which the Senate is now debating.

As a member of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, a group that addresses workforce issues in higher education, CAA helped to prepare and administer a 2010 survey on contingent-faculty issues. The results have been tabulated and will be distributed soon. More than one thousand CAA members filled out the survey. [June 20 update: the survey results have been published.]

Founded as an advocate for the visual arts in higher education, CAA actively engages matters of public policy, litigation, and activism at the local, state, federal, and international levels. For further information, visit the Advocacy section of the website. If you have questions or have advocacy issues you would like to bring to the attention of the CAA board, please contact Anne Collins Goodyear, CAA president, and Linda Downs, CAA executive director and chief executive officer, at

2011 Advocacy Days in Washington, DC

posted by Linda Downs

Humanities Advocacy Day took place on March 6–8, 2011, and Arts Advocacy Day on April 4–5, 2011. Five members of the CAA Board of Directors represented CAA: Linda Downs, Barbara Nesin, Judith Thorpe, and Jean Miller, who contribute reports below, and Andrea Kirsh. CAA’s development and marketing manager, Sara Hines, also joined the ranks of attendees, which ranged from seasoned arts administrators, artists, scholars, curators, and educators to young students aspiring to enter these fields.

Humanities Advocacy Day

Linda Downs is CAA executive director and recently became secretary of the National Humanities Alliance board of directors.

On March 8, I represented CAA during Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), this three-day event gathered advocates from across the country to meet on Capitol Hill to inform their senators and representatives about the importance of the humanities in their districts and to support federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Advocates usually don’t meet their representatives directly, but their staffers tally every visit and report on messages sent.

This year, more than two hundred people from colleges, universities, professional associations, and state humanities organizations visited 107 House and Senate offices representing thirty-four states. Participants asked that Congress maintain the NEH’s enacted level of $167.5 million for fiscal year 2010. The strong attendance indicated how important this annual event is and, in particular, that an increasing number of art-minded citizens were highly concerned about the proposed Congressional budget reduction that would eliminate the NEH. With colleagues from the state of New York, I targeted new members of Congress to inform them about the importance of the humanities in their districts.

Preceding Humanities Advocacy Day was the NHA annual meeting, which took place March 6–7 and included advocacy training, a workshop on finding grants, and panel presentations. In his keynote address, David Skorton, president of Cornell University, emphasized the importance of humanities education for cultural understanding and for the security of the United States. During a luncheon, Leslie Berlowitz, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, announced the launch of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will bring together scholars and corporate leaders to propose steps to strengthen the humanities nationally. On one panel, three individuals demonstrated how effective, important, and creative current humanities research is: Ashley Marshall, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, uses digital statistics to reinterpret eighteenth-century studies; Tara McPherson, associate professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, established the Vectors Journal at her school, an online venture that introduces an interactive publishing platform to humanities scholars; and Damon Dozier, director of public affairs at the American Anthropological Association, described the association’s RACE project that explores all aspects of the concept of race and has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers  over the past three years.

The humanities community made a strong impact on Congress this year. At this time of writing (late April 2011), the NEH remains in the Congressional budget, albeit at a reduced amount.

Arts Advocacy Day

Barbara Nesin is an artist, a professor and department chair of art foundations at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Georgia, and the president of the CAA Board of Directors.

Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day offered a full day of training followed by a second day of meeting Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill with the aim of preserving federal funding for the arts during an especially challenging economic period. During my first time attending the event, I learned how to speak about not just the intrinsic value of the arts, but also their real economic value in this country and the importance of the arts in education. In training sessions hosted by Americans for the Arts, my colleagues and I were given the voting history and committee work of our representatives and, when in conversation with them later, were told to highlight how the arts function as a business magnet, create jobs and tax revenue, attract tourism, and foster the country’s creative advantage internationally. We didn’t neglect education, as the arts strengthen academic performance in a variety of disciplines, such as science, technology, English, and math, and contribute to an innovative, competitive workforce.

This year, advocates had to prepare a unified message that was pertinent to current budget and political realities. Furthermore, those of us who wear more than one hat—for me, being a CAA board member, a professor and administrator, and a resident of Georgia—needed to understand the context of each position in relation to the overall mission for the day. We had to make a strong case to save the NEA’s budget for fiscal year 2012 and to maintain $40 million appropriated for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs and grants.

Americans for the Arts provided me with a wealth of information about pressing state issues, identifying key politicians with critical influence and importantly emphasizing that now is not the time to point out disparities in federal support between, for example, the visual and performing arts. What was the right approach? A consistent, nonpartisan message supported by facts and real-life examples, practical solutions, and a convincing, definite ask.

Before coming to DC, I had consulted my home institution’s public-relations department to determine appropriate topics and strategies. I also reviewed issues close to CAA’s heart, ready to share information about tax reform in the arts: preserving incentives for charitable giving, extending the IRA Charitable Rollover, and rejecting attempts to create a hierarchy for deductions to nonprofits that discriminates against the arts. I also wanted to ask for support for the Artist–Museum Partnership Act—something CAA has advocated for many years—which would allow artists to deduct from their federal income tax the fair-market-value of works of art donated to and retained by nonprofit institutions. (Currently artists can only deduct the cost of their materials used to make the work). Improving the visa process for foreign guest artists was also on my list of topics.

Even though representatives from Georgia raced to attend emergency meetings regarding the difficult budget negotiations that threatened to close down the government that very week, my group managed to meet several of them and speak to the staff of others. In some cases, staffers invited us to leave informational materials provided by Americans for the Arts, which outline major funding issues and, through maps and statistics, pinpointed concentrations of arts-related business in each representative’s district—with actual dollar amounts.

Since my school has already cultivated excellent relationships with several Congressional leaders in my state, I built on that firm groundwork by sharing a sincere “thank you” for the specific ways in which each had already supported the arts, regardless of his party or voting record. These representatives—whether recognized friends of the arts or not—responded supremely to people from their own district, whether by residence or place of employment. On that local turf, there was not one who had not made some effort to demonstrate their concern for arts education and some type of arts programming to their own community. From that point, conversations went one of two ways.

To those who had previously opposed arts funding, I emphasized the significance of the arts to economic development—that is to say, I talked jobs, jobs, jobs. Armed with hard figures that proved how the arts generate substantial employment and investment in specific districts and nationally, I made the case that opposing arts funding puts many people out of work and damages local economies that depend on the arts to attract employers and business activity. Keep in mind that even a single arts event generates not only sales of tickets or art objects, but also uses numerous surrounding services and accommodations, including printers, web designers, restaurants, and hotels. These are not insignificant dollars, and no politician wants to be viewed by constituents as opposing much-needed, economically healthy free enterprise. In addition, staunch supporters of cutting taxes listened with interest when my group spoke about implementing tax benefits that would have a real impact on estates and museum collections. If such representatives were at all concerned about swing votes in their district, it would not cost much in real dollars for them to support some form of arts funding. Even a slight increase would have a dramatic and highly visible effect—something investors might call an attractive “rate of return.”

In the offices of strong supporters of the arts is where I successfully addressed other issues that CAA has been working on. Staffers in Representative John Lewis’s office told me that orphan works was not on their radar before but will be now, promising to research the subject and bring it to Lewis’s attention. Finally, we offered ourselves as resources to these elected officials and asked them for advice on what we could do to assist them.

I was gratified to see a good number of graduate students among the five hundred plus attending Arts Advocacy Day. As a CAA member and an art educator, I was keenly interested in what students had to say, especially when speaking from their personal experience. One young woman finishing her master’s in arts administration made an impassioned plea for assurance of jobs when she graduates. When I described CAA to them, several students in programs of social policy and arts administration were excited about becoming actively involved in the organization, particularly in the area of advocacy. CAA needs to continue building these connections.

As the largest organization for the visual arts in the country, CAA has significant membership numbers—more than 12,000 individuals and 1,800 institutions—that amplify considerably when counting those who belong to the affiliated societies, making us a potentially powerful voice. Congress listens to voting constituents. Although CAA doesn’t vote, it does represent an exponential body of voters. If we want the visual arts better represented on a national level, CAA is an ideal body to do so year round.

This year’s was a success: participants helped preserve federal funding for the arts in large measure, with much smaller cuts than originally proposed, and saw first-hand our full potential reach and influence. I encourage as many members as possible to attend future Arts Advocacy Days.

Arts Advocacy Day

Judith Thorpe is an artist, professor of photography, and head of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is also a member of the CAA Board of Directors.

Two years ago, riding on the recent election of Barack Obama and the promise of increased funding for the arts and humanities, participants in Arts and Humanities Advocacy Days felt vibrancy and excitement in the air. The atmosphere in Congressional offices during Arts Advocacy Day in 2011 contrasted with that optimism tremendously. Facing budget and partisanship battles daily, federal legislators threatened once again to not just reduce but extinguish all NEA initiatives and Department of Education programs for Arts in Education. In the end, Congress did not axe the endowment as feared and returned $25 million to Arts in Education for fiscal year 2012. Truth be told, these amounts are so small that their impact on the national budget is negligible. These annual skirmishes, however, continue to reflect the raging ideological battles regarding the arts in this country.

Events of a week in which Congress canceled appropriations hearings and a budget stalemate nearly closed down the federal government subdued advocacy meetings with senators, representatives, and their aides. My group from Connecticut found it difficult to advocate more than flat funding for the NEA, but we asked the offices of Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and Chris Murphy to renew their commitment to the arts and to join or continue serving on the Congressional Art Caucus and the Senate Cultural Caucus.

In order to benefit the arts and humanities—and the interests of CAA in particular—we must develop a means to send advocates to meet specifically with key members of Congress during the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museums Advocacy Days. CAA’s vast number of professionals in academia, museums, and elsewhere should be heard in a focused manner, and members of the CAA Board of Directors may need to get more involved in organizing participation in the three national advocacy days.

Attending this year sharpened my awareness of how members of Congress perceive the role of the arts differently in this country. That said, I was heartened to see bipartisan support for the arts and encouraged to advocate continued and greater support for the arts. It was quite a civics class!

Arts Advocacy Day

A member of the CAA Board of Directors, Jean Miller is associate dean of administrative affairs of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas in Denton. She also oversees her schools Design Research Center in Dallas.

I became acquainted with Americans for the Arts and attended Arts Advocacy Day for the first time in 2009 as a representative of CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and a resident of the state of Maryland. This year, I represented CAA as a board member and cochair of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) Advocacy Task Force. Now a Texas resident, I also made efforts to cultivate a relationship with members of Texans for the Arts.

Although Arts Advocacy Day has a similar structure and comparable messages from year to year, the underlying sense of urgency during the 2011 proceedings made it markedly different from those of 2009. This was due in part to the possibility of the government shutting down during the budget talks. All advocates intensely felt the charged atmosphere during the Americans for the Arts–sponsored Congressional Arts Breakfast and later on Capitol Hill when meeting representatives and their staff.

Like my colleagues above, I was impressed by the record attendance of over five hundred advocates from around the country, gathering to communicate a consistent message about the value of art and culture in our lives to Congress. Actors Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin and several other celebrities joined attendees over the course of the two days to lend their voices in support of the arts and artists. As they spoke candidly about their mentors and career opportunities, these individuals served as great moral support and inspired us to strategize together to position the arts better in the national budget conversation.

To help frame discussions with legislators and their staff, advocacy leaders urged us to take a practical, bipartisan approach to all conversations. At the same time, they also encouraged us to send a clear, strong, and persistent message to Congress about sustaining NEA funding—not increasing it as we had asked in the past—and to share stories about how the NEA has had a strong impact on our communities and states.

Were we successful? I believe that yes, as a committed group of arts professionals and students, we took the time to study current issues, applied an advocacy framework to discuss important points, and stood up as citizens to increase visibility for the arts locally and nationally. Was it enough? Unfortunately no. What else could CAA do as an organization? Perhaps we can strengthen ties with its affiliated societies, which in sum represent over 300,000 people, and use a large collective voice in support of advocacy efforts. With the affiliates, CAA can design strategies to reach the political leaders who are in positions of making the tough budget decisions. With many CAA staff and board members involved in strengthening connections to affiliated societies and working on advocacy and outreach, I think this is entirely possible.

CAA’s Positions for Arts Advocacy Day

posted by Linda Downs

At Arts Advocacy Day 2011, CAA representatives from five states—Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas—will meet congressional staff to advocate for the visual arts in higher education. Organized by Americans for the Arts, of which CAA is a member institution, the annual event will take place April 4–5, 2011, in Washington, DC. CAA delegates will address the following issues of critical importance and invite you to register and get involved.

As the leading association in the world that represents professional visual-arts practitioners, CAA endorses government support of creativity and innovation that has made this country great.

CAA seeks support for artists and art historians who work in colleges, universities, and art museums, as well as for independent artists and scholars. The federal government must support professionals in the visual arts like it does for practitioners and scholars in other arts, such as dance and music. The professional practice, study, and teaching of the visual arts deserve further support because of the power these disciplines have to educate, inspire, and stimulate independent thinking.

CAA also believes that public and private partnerships should expand not only between schools and communities but also among the academic community in colleges, universities, and art schools.

CAA fully endorses the creation of an art corps comprising professionally educated artists and art historians who will work with students in urban schools on community-based projects, raising an awareness of the importance of creativity and professional artists. CAA also encourages government-sponsored projects such as Americorps and Vista to emphasize the visual arts. Young artists are eager to work on environmental programs that involve community-organized design projects such as, for example, mine-reclamation endeavors in which community recreation centers are established near cleaning pools for toxic mine runoff to help redevelopment the land.

CAA would like to emphasize that, in order to champion publicly the importance of arts education, America must support the preparation of artists and art historians who teach on a primary, secondary, and college/university level. The visual arts are integral to core curricula in each grade and at every stage of education.

CAA fully supports increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Library and Museum Services. Specifically, professional artists must supported on individual bases. CAA strongly recommends that the NEA reinstate Individual Artist Fellowships, so that visual artists can pursue and develop their work. Similar grants in other areas of the arts and humanities far exceed federal and private foundation grants to professional visual artists, who are often forced to abandon their own work to support themselves and their families. Professional artists desperately need government support.

CAA supports legislation to change tax laws for artists. The organization has worked hard—and will continue to work hard—to support the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, first introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in 2005. The proposed act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of materials, when they make charitable contributions. Not only has the current tax laws been harmful to artists, the creative legacy of a whole generation of American visual artists has been lost.

In addition, CAA supports legislation that would allow scholars to publish so-called orphan works, which are copyrighted works—such as books, pictures, music, recordings, or films—whose copyright owners cannot be identified or located. The House of Representatives and Senate has previously introduced orphan-works bills, and CAA hopes Congress will pass one in the coming session. The lack of clear laws and procedures regarding the issue has prevented many art historians from publishing orphan works, causing a great detriment to scholarly publishing and research.

CAA supports cultural diplomacy by enhancing international opportunities, through agencies such as the United States Information Agency, for professional visual artists and art historians to exhibit, teach, research, and lecture. CAA’s international membership testifies to the promotion of cultural understanding that occurs through international cultural exchange. Every year CAA seeks funding to support the travel of international art historians and artists to our Annual Conference. Current Homeland Security laws and a lack of government funding make it difficult for foreign art historians and artists to present their work and research at conferences, symposia, and exhibitions. CAA endorses streamlining the visa process and providing government support for international exchanges of graduate students and professional artists and art historians.

CAA supports providing healthcare to independent artists and scholars—a major concern for those professionals who are not associated with a college, university, or art museum and who attempt to work on their own to support themselves. Each state creates its own health-insurance legislation, and thus differences in laws regulating insurance companies prohibit professional organizations such as CAA from offering national healthcare coverage.

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