Hunter O’Hanian, CAA executive director, recently spoke to the artist Holly Hughes about proposed budget cuts for the National Endowment for the Arts. Hughes is known for being one of the NEA Four—artists whose work was described by Republican lawmakers as controversial and even pornographic. The debacle over the NEA Four led to the closing of the federal agency’s program of giving grants to individual artists.
O’Hanian and Hughes discuss ten points that originated with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that advised Trump on his recent federal budget proposal. The two take on each suggestion point by point, offering a rebuttal to the Heritage Foundation’s logic.
Though we know the most recent budget does fund the NEA and NEH through the fall of 2017 with a small increase in funding—and we are thrilled about that—we do not believe we are in the clear. When funding is allocated again in the fall this conversation should serve as a reminder to why the arts and humanities are so important to our world.
posted by CAA — March 16, 2017
Today the US President released his proposal for 2018 federal budget – it envisions transferring additional billions of dollars to the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security from many important domestic programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency, education, and legal services. As expected, the budget also calls for the complete elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and 16 other federal agencies. CAA was one of the first national organizations to speak against these cuts.
As educators, art historians, artists, curators, museum directors, designers, scholars, and other members of the visual arts community we must act to defend the role of arts and humanities in our society. The budget process is long and ultimately controlled by the US House and Senate. Earlier this week, CAA traveled to Washington for Humanities Advocacy Day to meet with many congressional offices to discuss the importance of continued NEA and NEH funding. We will return again next week to do the same for Arts Advocacy Day.
In addition, CAA assembled an Arts and Humanities Advocacy Toolkit with information on how to contact your representatives in Congress to voice your support for the NEA and NEH and the many quality programs they fund. Call their offices. Email them. Attend Town Halls. You can learn how these agencies support activities in your area here: funded by the NEA and funded by the NEH. Be sure to let your representatives know of the impact of the arts and humanities in your districts. Spread the word to your colleagues and friends.
Despite the White House’s opposition to continued funding for the NEA and NEH, there is sufficient reason to believe that many members of the US House and Senate will support a budget that includes continued funding for these agencies. I ask our members to join in the effort to make sure all members of Congress knows the importance of the work done by these agencies.
Chief Executive Officer
“The phone calls and emails began coming in a few weeks ago to the Nebraska congressional delegation — all Republicans, and all potentially crucial to an expected fight over the very existence of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities under President Trump.” –“How to Block Trump Arts Cuts? Groups Look for G.O.P. Help,” The New York Times, February 28, 2017
Arts and Humanities Advocates are already taking action. CAA encourages its members and all advocates of the arts and humanities to be persistent and do more.
On January 23, 2017, CAA released a statement condemning the proposed budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other federal agencies.
“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.”
The current administration’s proposal to cut funding for the NEA and NEH is based on a 1997 Heritage Foundation report, titled “Ten Good Reasons to Eliminate Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.”
To support our statement, CAA has put together an Arts and Humanities Advocacy Tool Kit to help our members and anyone who wants to advocate for the arts and humanities. Information is power, after all. The Tool Kit information is pulled from a variety of sources that aid in forging partnerships, obtaining accurate data on the impact of the arts and humanities, and actions one can take in order to use your voice effectively.
We encourage you to contact us at CAA also. CAA staff will attend both Arts Advocacy Day and Humanities Advocacy Day. The more stories we can share as we meet with colleagues and representatives, the more influence we collectively bring to the table.
Locate and Call
Call your representatives about any and all pressing issues.
This is a helpful guide on how to contact your local representative:
Face-to-face meetings with representatives are the most effective way to deliver your message. Hand your representative a physical document with facts and figures and be sure to explain who you are and how the group you represent relates to your local politician’s constituency.
Town Halls are one good way to voice your opinion to your local representative in person. The Federation for American Immigration Reform has a guide on how to attend Town Hall meetings.
You can also organize and request an appointment at the offices of your representative. The National Priorities Project has a good guide to setting up office appointments.
There are myriad petitions floating around these days, addressing vast numbers of topics. It can be hard to keep track or know which petitions to sign.
Change.org remains one of the best places to find a database of petitions by topic. The site also provides explanations and background information for each petition.
Advocates can also send postcards directly to members of Congress that are customized with their artwork or other artworks, thanks to the #savethearts Postcard Project.
Arm Thyself with Data and Information
There is lots of good data about the impact of the arts and humanities on people and places. The National Humanities Alliance is working on several data gathering and mapping projects.
Americans for the Arts is also a hub for data and information about various federal arts agencies and arts education in America.
Data on the arts and humanities can also be found on the National Endowment for the Arts Facts & Figures page and the National Endowment for the Humanities Impact Reports.
This nifty website is a running tally of all the programs that the NEA funded in 2016.
You can also search the NEA website to see all grants they have awarded since 1996. Check to see what organizations in your local area are funded by the NEA.
The same search for grants can be done on the NEH website.
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.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
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
Chief Executive Officer
posted by Christopher Howard — January 23, 2017
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
Chief Executive Officer
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.
Suzanne Preston Blier
posted by CAA — August 09, 2016
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 email@example.com.
posted by CAA — April 19, 2016
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.