CAA News Today

Artistic/Academic Freedom Under Attack?

posted by February 03, 2017

Advocacy has always been part of CAA.

Like many other Americans, we have closely watched the proposed changes to the federal government, its impact on artistic and academic freedom and have grown concerned.

Two weeks ago, I was contacted about a painting properly hanging in a student exhibition in the US Capitol. The painting by eighteen-year-old David Pulphus depicts his insightful point of view regarding circumstances in Ferguson, Missouri. Based on complaints about the painting’s contents, the US government permanently removed it from the exhibition. Grown men with guns felt threatened by a teenager armed only with a paintbrush.

The following week, I was visited by a group of college and university art educators from a variety of public and private institutions who presented shocking stories of threats to their artistic and academic freedom in the classroom. You will be hearing more about their efforts to document institutional and self-imposed censorship in academic settings. As they have said, “Harassment campaigns against targeted professors and institutions are being unleashed with increasing regularity around the country.”

Last week we learned that the newly formed government intends to take steps to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. CAA President Suzanne Preston Blier and I sent a message on this topic to the entire CAA membership last week.

These are alarming events. For the first time in decades, it appears our artistic and academic freedom is under a coordinated attack. We ask that CAA members vigilantly watch for further infringements. Take steps to reach out to your elected representatives to make your point of view known. Let them know that you are a member of CAA. Together we can work to protect our respective artistic and academic freedoms.

Hunter O’Hanian
Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer

Scholars and Artists Impacted by Travel Ban

posted by February 02, 2017


Like many around the world, CAA is concerned with the direction the current US government has taken with regard to international travel in and out of the United States. We view this as having a potentially chilling effect on artistic and academic freedoms. CAA has taken a stand in strong opposition to the current executive order.

However, we would like to do more if we can. If you are planning to attend the 2017 Annual Conference from another county and have been impacted by the travel ban we ask that you contact us immediately. Email our membership department or call 212-691-1051, ext. 1. We will endeavor to assist you in any way we can.

You may also use this Google Form to submit a query if you have been impacted by the immigration ban.

CAA Statement on Immigration Ban

posted by February 01, 2017

The College Art Association (CAA), the largest professional group for artists and art historians in the United States, strongly condemns and expresses its grave concern about the recent presidential executive order aimed at limiting the movement of members of CAA and the broader community of arts professionals who fall under the selective set of criteria for national status or ethnic affiliation.

CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members for many years. Committed to the common purpose of understanding the visual arts in all its forms, professionals throughout the world have enriched CAA’s community by adding diverse perspectives to the study, making, and teaching of art. With funding in recent years from the Getty Foundation to support travel and programs for scholars and curators from Africa, Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Asia, the association now includes members from seventy countries. More than ten percent of our individual members are international. CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members since the earliest years of its existence. The roots of CAA’s present-day international program stemmed from a desire to assist European refugees in the 1930s to support personal safety as well as academic and artistic freedom. During that decade, CAA had a “foreign membership” category; as art historians fled Hitler’s Europe, CAA ran a lecture bureau for refugee scholars that created speaking engagements for them at institutions throughout the United States.

The recently announced ban on travel to the United States for residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries not only goes against the inclusive, secular underpinnings of American democracy, it stifles the open access to scholarship and art upon which our work is founded. The executive order goes against our professional and scholarly commitment to diversity, the global exchange of ideas, and the respect for difference. The contribution of immigrants, foreign nationals, and people of all cultural backgrounds greatly strengthens our intellectual and creative world. Further, we believe the executive order law challenges the values at the heart of the US Constitution’s protections on speech and association as well as our national commitment to democratic process for all.

Turning our backs on refugees and closing our borders selectively stifles creative and intellectual work in addition to its very real impact on peoples’ daily lives. We call on our public officials to thwart this attempt to seemingly preserve our own safety at the expense of those who are vulnerable and who also contribute so much.

Without question, CAA welcomes all members and non-members to our upcoming Annual Conference to discuss and debate what constitutes a thriving artistic and intellectual society. Such openness is essential to our mission. We are committed through dialogue and action to help any CAA members who are affected by this policy. To this end, the association and the Board of Directors will continue to monitor and respond to policies related to this order as well as pressure for its immediate repeal.

Suzanne Preston Blier

Hunter O’Hanian
Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer

For more than a century, the College Art Association (CAA) has represented art historians, artists, museum professionals, designers, and others who think and care about the visual arts and its impact on our culture. We do this in part through direct advocacy for artistic and academic freedom.

Like many other Americans, we have closely watched the proposed changes to the federal government. Recent news reports reveal that the US President intends to propose the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This proposal is reportedly based in part on a recommendation by the Heritage Foundation that states, “As the U.S. Congress struggles to balance the federal budget and end the decades-long spiral of deficit spending, few programs seem more worthy of outright elimination than the National Endowment for the Arts.”

We offer our complete and total opposition to these efforts.

Since the 1960s, the NEA and NEH have supported artists, writers, museum professionals, and a wide array of scholars of various disciplines in creating new work and scholarship. The NEA supports thousands of cultural and educational organizations, and, in a few cases, individual artists. The NEH, which strengthens teaching and learning in schools and colleges—as well as the work of independent scholars—creates access to educational scholarship and research nationwide. In addition, the NEH is a strong supporter of museum exhibitions throughout the country. Combined, the budgets for the two agencies are less than $300 million. The organizational grantees generate hundreds of millions of dollars in matching support and countless new works of art and scholarship. These works and related projects are studied and enjoyed by millions of Americans in museums and other venues. The cultural sector of the US economy generates more the $135 billion in revenue and employs over three million people in small towns and large cities countrywide.

Given that the respective budgets of the NEA and NEH represent only a tiny fraction of the entire federal budget, their planned elimination cannot logically be seen as a cost-saving measure. Rather, it appears to be a deliberate, ominous effort to silence artistic and academic voices, representing a potentially chilling next step in an apparent effort to stifle and eradicate oppositional voices and cultural output from civic life. By eliminating the support for these agencies, the government undermines the unifying potential of the arts, culture, and education that encourages and nurtures communication and positive discussion.

CAA leadership is monitoring the possible elimination and/or reduction of funding for the NEA and NEH and how it may affect our members and the work they do. CAA will communicate and collaborate with other cultural and educational organizations and learned societies to determine potential future advocacy options.

We urge our fellow CAA members to contact their representatives in Congress to let them know the importance of maintaining a robust, national, publicly supported framework for artistic and academic freedom.  When you contact your representative, we ask that you let them know you are a member of CAA and together we are advocating for continued public funding for the arts. We also encourage you to contact the National Humanities Alliance and Americans for the Arts to become further involved.

Through our collective strength, we can ensure that public funding of scholarship and art making continues, free from political and commercial interference.

Suzanne Preston Blier

Hunter O’Hanian
Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer

CAA Restatement of Values, November 2016

posted by November 22, 2016

For more than one hundred years, the College Art Association (CAA) has been dedicated to the creative process through making and thinking about art and how it affects our past, present, and future. We do this through scholarship, publications, convenings, research, and professional development for artists, designers, and art historians. As a member-driven association, we are committed to intellectual rigor, peer review, inclusion, and diversity. We uphold these values by engaging everyone, nationally and internationally; all races, ages, abilities, religions, citizenships, ethnicities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. We defend academic freedom as forcefully as we reject discrimination, bigotry, sexual assault, and violence against the vulnerable.

As scholars, artists, and educators, we expect the same exactitude from leaders in education, cultural institutions, and, in particular, government. We will continue to advocate in no uncertain terms for an inclusive climate that fosters intellectual honesty, transparency, and human engagement.

President, Board of Directors
Suzanne Preston Blier
Executive Director
Hunter O’Hanian

CAA has signed onto the letter reprinted below, written by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) on July 21, 2016, and signed by dozens of organizations. To read the full list of signatories, please visit the MESA website.

Threats to Academic Freedom and Higher Education in Turkey

The above listed organizations collectively note with profound concern the apparent moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions, and assertions of central control, a process begun earlier this year and accelerating now with alarming speed.

As scholarly associations, we are committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The recent moves in Turkey herald a massive and virtually unprecedented assault on those principles. One of the Middle East region’s leading systems of higher education is under severe threat as a result, as are the careers and livelihoods of many of its faculty members and academic administrators.

Our concern about the situation in Turkish universities has been mounting over the past year, as Turkish authorities have moved to retaliate against academics for expressing their political views—some merely signing an “Academics for Peace” petition criticizing human rights violations.

Yet the threat to academic freedom and higher education has recently worsened in a dramatic fashion. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15–16, 2016, the Turkish government has moved to purge government officials in the Ministry of Education and has called for the resignation of all university deans across the country’s public and private universities. As of this writing, it appears that more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry have been fired and nearly 1,600 deans—1,176 from public universities and 401 from private universities—have been asked to resign. In addition, 21,000 private school teachers have had their teaching licenses cancelled. Further, reports suggest that travel restrictions have been imposed on academics at public universities and that Turkish academics abroad were required to return to Turkey. The scale of the travel restrictions, suspensions, and imposed resignations in the education sector seemingly go much farther than the targeting of individuals who might have had any connection to the attempted coup.

The crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government. Moreover, the removal of all of the deans across the country represents a direct assault on the institutional autonomy of Turkey’s universities. The replacement of every university’s administration simultaneously by the executive-controlled Higher Education Council would give the government direct administrative control of all Turkish universities. Such concentration and centralization of power over all universities is clearly inimical to academic freedom. Moreover, the government’s existing record of requiring university administrators’ to undertake sweeping disciplinary actions against perceived opponents—as was the case against the Academics for Peace petition signatories—lends credence to fears that the change in university administrations will be the first step in an even broader purge against academics in Turkey.

Earlier this year, it was already clear that the Turkish government, in a matter of months, had amassed a staggering record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The aftermath of the attempted coup may have accelerated those attacks on academic freedom in even more alarming ways.

As scholarly organizations, we collectively call for respect for academic freedom—including freedom of expression, opinion, association, and travel—and the autonomy of universities in Turkey, offer our support to our Turkish colleagues, second the Middle East Studies Association’s “call for action” of January 15, request that Turkey’s diplomatic interlocutors (both states and international organizations) advocate vigorously for the rights of Turkish scholars and the autonomy of Turkish universities, suggest other scholarly organizations speak forcefully about the threat to the Turkish academy, and alert academic institutions throughout the world that Turkish colleagues are likely to need moral and substantive support in the days ahead.


Organizations wishing to be included as signatories on the above statement should contact Amy Newhall at

In March, the North Carolina legislature passed a bill that made it illegal for cities to enact laws that superseded or contradicted state law. The bill, known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, invalidated an ordinance established in the city of Charlotte that had extended rights to gay and transgender people. This month in Mississippi, the governor signed a bill, called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, that came from the state legislature. This law may protect discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools, workplaces, and government locales.

Responding to the legislation in Mississippi and North Carolina, CAA’s Board of Directors approved its own statement, which reads:

The College Art Association denounces laws that sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people, including those recently enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi. The visual arts community has long stood for diversity and the inclusion of all peoples in the civic fabric of our country.  We support CAA members and others in the visual arts community who live or work in the affected states and their efforts to oppose these unjust laws.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler has reintroduced a revised bill, The American Royalties Too Act 2015, to provide royalties to visual artists whose work is resold and valued at over $5,000.

H. R. 1881

To amend title 17, United States Code, to secure the rights of visual artists to copyright, to provide for resale royalties, and for other purposes.

April 16, 2015
Mr. Nadler (for himself, Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Chu of California, Ms. Jackson Lee, Mr. Engel, Ms. Meng, Mr. Deutch, Ms. Schakowsky, and Mr. Pocan) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend title 17, United States Code, to secure the rights of visual artists to copyright, to provide for resale royalties, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “American Royalties Too Act of 2015”.

SEC. 2. Definitions.

Section 101 of title 17, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by inserting after the definition of “architectural work” the following:

(2) by inserting after the definition of “Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” the following:

(3) by inserting after the definition of “registration” the following:

(4) in the definition of “work of visual art”, by striking “A ‘work of visual art’ is—” and all that follows through “by the author.” and inserting the following: “A ‘work of visual art’ is a painting, drawing, print, sculpture, or photograph, existing either in the original embodiment or in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author and are consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author.”.

SEC. 3. Exclusive rights.

Section 106 of title 17, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by inserting “(a) In general.—” before “Subject to sections 107 through 122”;

(2) in paragraph (5), by striking “and” at the end;

(3) in paragraph (6), by striking the period at the end and inserting “; and”; and

(4) by adding at the end the following:

“(7) in the case of a work of visual art, to collect a royalty for the work if the work is sold by a person other than the author of the work for a price of not less than $5,000 as the result of an auction.

“(b) Collection of royalty.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The collection of a royalty under subsection (a)(7) shall be conducted in accordance with this subsection.


“(A) IN GENERAL.—The royalty shall be an amount equal to the lesser of—

“(i) 5 percent of the price paid for the work of visual art; or

“(ii) $35,000.

“(B) ADJUSTMENT OF AMOUNT.—In 2016 and each year thereafter, the dollar amount described in subparagraph (A)(ii) shall be increased by an amount equal to the product of—

“(i) that dollar amount; and

“(ii) the cost-of-living adjustment determined under section 1(f)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for the year, determined by substituting ‘calender year 2016’ for ‘calendar year 1992’ in subparagraph (B) thereof.


“(A) COLLECTION.—Not later than 90 days after the date on which the auction occurs, the entity that conducts the auction shall—

“(i) collect the royalty; and

“(ii) pay the royalty to a visual artists’ copyright collecting society.

“(B) DISTRIBUTION.—Not fewer than 4 times each year, the visual artists’ copyright collecting society shall distribute to the author or his or her successor as copyright owner an amount equal to the difference between—

“(i) the net royalty attributable to the sales of the author; and

“(ii) the reasonable administrative expenses of the collecting society as determined by regulations issued under section 701(b)(5).

“(4) FAILURE TO PAY ROYALTY.—Failure to pay a royalty provided for under this subsection shall—

“(A) constitute an infringement of copyright; and

“(B) be subject to—

“(i) the payment of statutory damages under section 504(c); and

“(ii) liability for payment of the full royalty due.

“(5) RIGHT TO COLLECT ROYALTY.—The right to collect a royalty under this subsection may not be sold, assigned, or waived except as provided in section 201.

“(6) ELIGIBILITY TO RECEIVE ROYALTY PAYMENT.—The royalty shall be paid to—

“(A) any author of a work of visual art—

“(i) who is a citizen of or domiciled in the United States;

“(ii) who is a citizen of or domiciled in a country that provides resale royalty rights; or

“(iii) whose work of visual art is first created in the United States or in a country that provides resale royalty rights; or

“(B) the successor as copyright owner of an author described in subparagraph (A).”.

SEC. 4. Notice of copyright.

Section 401 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(e) Non-Applicability to works of visual art.—The provisions of this section shall not apply to a work of visual art.”.

SEC. 5. Copyright office.

Section 701(b) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by—

(1) redesignating paragraph (5) as paragraph (6); and

(2) inserting after paragraph (4) the following:

“(5) Issue regulations governing visual artists’ copyright collecting societies described in section 106, that—

“(A) establish a process by which an entity is determined to be and designated as a visual artists’ copyright collecting society, that—

“(i) requires that a visual artists’ copyright collecting society authorized to administer royalty collections and distributions under this title shall—

“(I) have prior experience in licensing the copyrights of authors of works of visual art in the United States; or

“(II) have been authorized by not fewer than 10,000 authors of works of visual art, either directly or through reciprocal agreements with foreign collecting societies, to license the rights granted under section 106; and

“(ii) prohibits an entity from being designated as a visual artists’ copyright collecting society if, during a period of not less than 5 years that begins after the date on which the entity is designated as a visual artists’ copyright collecting society, the entity does not distribute directly to each author, or to the successor as copyright owner of each author, the amount of the royalties required to be distributed under section 106(b)(3)(B);

“(B) determine a reasonable amount of administrative expenses that a visual artists’ copyright collecting society may deduct from the royalties payable to an author of a work of visual art under section 106(b)(3); and

“(C) establish a process by which—

“(i) not less frequently than annually, a visual artists’ copyright collecting society may request from any entity that conducts auctions a list of each work of visual art sold in those auctions that is by an author represented by the collecting society; and

“(ii) an author of a work of visual art may obtain from a visual artists’ copyright collecting society any information requested by the collecting society under clause (i) that relates to a sale of a work of visual art by the author, including the amount of any royalty paid to the collecting society on behalf of the author.”.

SEC. 6. Study required.

Not later than 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Register of Copyrights shall—

(1) conduct a study on—

(A) the effects, if any, of the implementation of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, on the art market in the United States; and

(B) whether the provisions of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, should be expanded to cover dealers, galleries, or other professionals engaged in the sale of works of visual art; and

(2) submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives a report on the study described in paragraph (1), including any recommendations for legislation.

SEC. 7. Effective date.

This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect on the date that is 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act.


Filed under: Artists, Government and Politics

Help the NEH Celebrate Its Fiftieth Anniversary

posted by January 29, 2015

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency created in 1965 and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2015–16. To mark this historic event, we would like you to tell us about an NEH grant or grant product that has made a difference in your life, career, community, or academic field. To contribute stories about NEH’s past or for more information, send an email to Please include your name and telephone number in your message.

Because democracy demands wisdom, the NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. The grants:

  • strengthen teaching and learning in schools and colleges
  • facilitate research and original scholarship
  • provide opportunities for lifelong learning
  • preserve and provide access to cultural and educational resources
  • strengthen the institutional base of the humanities

Since 1965, the endowment has opened new worlds of learning for the American public with noteworthy projects such as:

  • Seven thousand books, 16 of which have won Pulitzer Prizes and 20 of which have received the Bancroft Prize
  • The Civil War, the landmark documentary by Ken Burns viewed by 38 million Americans
  • The Library of America editions of novels, essays, and poems celebrating America’s literary heritage
  • The United States Newspaper Project, which catalogued and microfilmed 63.3 million pages of historic newspapers and paved the way for the National Digital Newspaper Program and its digital repository, Chronicling America
  • Annual support for 56 states and territories to help support some 56,000 lectures, discussions, exhibitions, and other programs each year

We look forward to hearing from you!

CAA seeks nominations and self-nominations from an architectural historian or an art historian with a specialization in Islamic, East Asian, or contemporary art to serve on the jury for the Millard Meiss Publication Fund for a four-year term, ending on June 30, 2018. Candidates must be actively publishing scholars with demonstrated seniority and achievement; institutional affiliation is not required.

The Meiss jury awards subsidies to support the publication of book-length scholarly manuscripts in the history of art and related subjects. Members review manuscripts and grant applications twice a year and meet in New York in the spring and fall to select the awardees. CAA reimburses jury members for travel and lodging expenses in accordance with its travel policy.

Candidates must be current CAA members and should not be serving on another CAA editorial board or committee. Jury members may not themselves apply for a grant in this program during their term of service. Nominators should ascertain their nominee’s willingness to serve before submitting a name; self-nominations are also welcome. Please send a letter describing your interest in and qualifications for appointment, a CV, and contact information to: Millard Meiss Publication Fund Jury, College Art Association, 50 Broadway, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10004; or send all materials as email attachments to Alex Gershuny, CAA editorial manager. Deadline: July 22, 2014.