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New CAA Board Members

posted by CAA

CAA members have elected four new members to serve on the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2013: Jacqueline Francis, DeWitt Godfrey, Patricia Mathews, and Patricia McDonnell.

Results of the election were announced on February 27, 2009, during the Annual Members’ Business Meeting at the 97th Annual Conference in Los Angeles. These four take office at the next board meeting in May 2009; their original candidate statements appear below.

CAA is still seeking nominations and self-nominations for individuals interested in serving on CAA’s board for the 2010–14 term.

Jacqueline Francis
California College of the Arts and San Francisco State University

For the last two years, I have served on the CAA Committee on Diversity Practices, which works to advance several of CAA’s most important objectives: to define diversity, to communicate its importance to our membership, and to provide strategies for achieving it in the cultural realms in which we operate. As an organization, CAA will be stronger through the recognition of existing diversity within our ranks and through clear articulation about its centrality to stated goals of increasing membership (and hence, revenue), promoting and expanding our services, and demonstrating our continued relevance as a resource nexus and network. This is the vibrant profile that we must present to current and future members, to partner organizations, and to philanthropies and other potential sources of support.

DeWitt Godfrey
Colgate University

Because I spent the first fifteen years of my professional life as an independent artist, followed by a decade of teaching at the university level, I believe I offer some unique insights into CAA’s mission. In addition, my own academic experiences, as a student and professor, are located in departments that combine the study of art practice and art history. The creation, teaching, and reception of art, I have found, resonate strongly in settings that sustain multiple intellectual, critical, and creative discourses.

As CAA approaches its one-hundredth year and embarks on its next strategic-planning process, it must be equally creative and innovative, responding to and taking the lead in its support of emerging hybrid forms of artistic creation and scholarly production. Building on its core strengths, CAA must maintain its vitally important academic and professional standards, sustain the Annual Conference while exploring new models of collegial gatherings, and provide expanded venues for the presentation and publication of creative and scholarly work. CAA needs to better support its recent graduates and emerging professionals, encourage and provide for pedagogical innovation, and reexamine, reaffirm, and reinvigorate strategies to support its artists members. The association should also explore new paths of communication with membership that better address the specific needs of its various constituencies and embrace the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly digital world, as well as increase its advocacy for the place of art in the larger culture by expanding partnerships with other organizations. The planning, articulation, and implementation of these programs, as well as fundraising and membership expansion, are essential to CAA’s long-term fiscal health and stability.

Patricia Mathews
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

CAA has recently moved in constructive directions. I particularly applaud the interest in diversity and would like to improve financial support and organizational visibility for women and underrepresented scholars and artists. Further, as an extremely vital and lively organization, CAA should have a broader profile, especially in light of shrinking resources for arts organizations across the country.

As a member of a small liberal-arts college, I am interested in pedagogy and curricula. I have personally worked to develop these areas at Hobart and William Smith Colleges over the last few years and consider both of importance for the future of art history. To this end, I recently attended a Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching on new ideas in education and have been working closely with the director of the Center of Teaching and Learning at my school. There is a great deal of new literature on how students learn and what keeps them from learning well, and the workshops on pedagogy this year at the CAA Annual Conference in Los Angeles look quite valuable. Accordingly, I would like to institute our own study of best practices for teaching art and art history that could benefit both our professionals and our students.

I would bring to the board an unusual talent among art historians. I supported myself as an undergraduate by working for a small accounting firm, where I kept the books and did taxes for a number of medium-size companies. These skills would be useful in the board’s work with the annual budget.

Patricia McDonnell
Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University

College Art Association—the organization’s name signals its role as an advocate for all who teach the visual arts at the postsecondary level. Many of its members do that in the classroom. Those of us who work in art museums also guide learning about visual culture by enriching people’s firsthand encounters with works of art. Museum curators, editors, conservators, and librarians, as well as faculty artists and art historians, all contribute to the CAA world.

As a longtime curator and now as a museum director, and as a devoted member for seventeen years, I have relied greatly on CAA. Because CAA does an excellent job with its highly valuable Annual Conference and various publications—programs that we should sustain—I am especially interested in expanding the organization’s advocacy role for the visual arts in American culture. This advocacy should extol the intrinsic value of encounters with original works of art and partner with organizations such as Americans for the Arts. Advocacy should emphasize the critical importance of visual-arts education in American life and support for those who teach it.

Free Speech Protection Act Introduced in House

posted by Christopher Howard

Representative Peter King, a Republican from the State of New York, reintroduced the Free Speech Protection Act (HR 1304) to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans who are sued for defamation in foreign courts. With the rise of libel tourism, the fear of a lawsuit has become a deterrent for American authors, journalists, and publishers seeking to publish works on topics such as terrorism. The bill provides protections that will deter foreigners from suing Americans.

Recently there has been a rise in “libel tourism,” where foreigners take advantage of plaintiff-friendly foreign court systems, such as in the United Kingdom, in order to sue Americans for defamation. When sued in foreign courts, it has been difficult for Americans to countersue, as they could not establish standing in US courts. Without the ability to retaliate, there is nothing to discourage the practice of libel tourism.

The Free Speech Protection Act does the following to protect Americans and deter foreign libel lawsuits:

  • Allows US persons to bring a federal cause of action against any person bringing a foreign libel suit if the writing does not constitute defamation under US law
  • Bars enforcement of foreign libel judgments and provides other appropriate injunctive relief by US courts if a cause of action is established
  • Awards damages to the US person who brought the action in the amount of the foreign judgment, the costs related to the foreign lawsuit, and the harm caused due to the decreased opportunities to publish, conduct research, or generate funding
  • Awards treble damages if the person bringing the foreign lawsuit intentionally engaged in a scheme to suppress First Amendment rights
  • Allows for expedited discovery if the court determines that the speech at issue in the foreign defamation action is protected by the First Amendment.

While the goal of the bill is to protect Americans from the exploitation of libel tourism, it does not intend to limit legitimate cases of defamation. Nothing in the bill limits the rights of foreign litigants who bring forward good-faith defamation actions against journalists and others who have purposely and maliciously published false information.

In 2008, New York State passed a similar bill entitled Rachel’s Law. King’s bill raises the issue on the federal level so that all American’s rights can be protected. Senators Specter, Lieberman, and Schumer have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

NEA Report on Unemployment Rates for Artists

posted by Christopher Howard

Unemployment rates are up among working artists and the artist workforce has contracted, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 examines how the economic slowdown has affected the nation’s working artists. The study looks at artist employment patterns during two spikes in the current recession—the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008. Not unexpectedly, this downturn reflects larger economic declines across the nation: a Commerce Department report from late February noted a 6.2 percent decrease in the gross domestic product in the last quarter of 2008. The ten-page publication can be downloaded as a PDF.

Among the findings:

  • Artists are unemployed at twice the rate of professional workers, a category in which artists are grouped because of their high levels of education. The artist unemployment rate grew to 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 3 percent for all professionals. A total of 129,000 artists were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 50,000 (63 percent) from one year earlier. The unemployment rate for artists is comparable to that for the overall workforce (6.1 percent)
  • Unemployment rates for artists have risen more rapidly than for US workers as a whole. The unemployment rate for artists climbed 2.4 percentage points between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, compared to a one-point increase for professional workers as a whole, and a 1.9 point increase for the overall workforce
  • Artist unemployment rates would be even higher if not for the large number of artists leaving the workforce. The US labor force grew by 800,000 people from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. In contrast, the artist workforce shrank by 74,000 workers. Some of this decline may be attributed to artists’ discouragement over job prospects
  • Unemployment rose for most types of artist occupations. Artist jobs with higher unemployment rates are performing artists (8.4 percent), fine artists, art directors, and animators (7.1 percent), writers and authors (6.6 percent), and photographers (6.0 percent)
  • The job market for artists is unlikely to improve until long after the US economy starts to recover. Unemployment is generally a lagging economic indicator, or a measure of how an economy has performed in the past few months. During the prior recession (2001), artist unemployment did not reach its peak of 6.1 percent until 2003—two years after economic recovery began nationwide.

As an example of how arts jobs intersect with the larger economy, consider the construction industry. Industry-wide declines, which began in 2006, have contributed to the shrinking job market for architects. While this group usually has the lowest unemployment rates among all artist occupations and all professionals, architect unemployment rates doubled, from 1.8 percent in fourth quarter 2007, to 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Unemployment in the designer category also doubled, from 2.3 percent to 4.7 percent. This broad category includes interior, commercial, and industrial designers whose work is closely associated with the construction industry. Eighty-three thousand designers left the artist labor market during that time period.

The contraction of the arts workforce has implications for the overall economy. A May 2008 NEA study revealed there are two million full-time artists representing 1.4 percent of the US labor force, only slightly smaller than the number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the military (2.2 million). More recently, a National Governors Association report recognized that the arts directly benefit states and communities through job creation, tax revenues, attracting investments, invigorating local economies, and enhancing quality of life. There are 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations that support 5.7 million jobs and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

The NEA Office of Research and Analysis produced Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008 using published and unpublished data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The research note measures unemployment rates among workers who self-reported an artist job as occupying their greatest number of working hours per week, whether the employment was full-time or part-time.

Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by Christopher Howard

Below is a list of recent deaths in the arts, with a link to each person’s published obituary:

  • Lucille Virginia Burton, a curator of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died on February 22, 2009, at the age of 90
  • Schuyler Chapin, a cultural affairs commissioner for New York City and a dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, died on March 7, 2009. He was 86
  • William de Looper, an artist associated with the Washington Color School and a curator for the Phillips Collection, died on January 30, 2009, at age 76
  • Louisa Edwards, an art dealer at McIntosh Gallery in Atlanta who promoted black artists, died on February 23, 2009. She was 83
  • Sverre Fehn, a Norwegian architect who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, died on February 23, 2009, at age 84
  • Virgil Grotfeldt, a painter and sculptor based in Houston, Texas, died on February 23, 2009. He was 60
  • Mary Hambleton, an artist and a professor of art at Parsons the New School Design, died January 9, 2009, at the age of 56
  • Judith Hoffberg, an art librarian, curator, and editor of the journal Umbrella who championed artist’s books, died on January 16, 2009. She was 74
  • Howard Kanovitz, a Photo Realist painter who emerged in the 1960s, died on February 2, 2009, at the age of 79
  • Max Neuhaus, a percussionist and a pioneer of sound art, died on February 3, 2009, at the age of 69
  • Olga Raggio, a scholar who taught at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and a curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died on January 24, 2009. She was 82
  • George Schneeman, a poet and painter based in New York, died January 22, 2009, at age 74
  • Franz-Joachim Verspohl, an art historian who taught at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena in Germany, died in February 2009
  • Dina Vierny, an artist’s model who inspired the sculptor Aristide Maillol, died on January 20, 2009. She was 89

Read all past obituaries in the arts on the CAA website.

Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News

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