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CAA News Today

CAA is the principal national and international voice of the academic and professional community in the visual arts; the organization was founded on the principle of advocating the visual arts and actively continues that engagement today (see The Eye, The Hand, The Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association, edited by Susan Ball). The principal goal of CAA advocacy is to address issues of critical importance in the visual arts that benefit artists, art historians, and museum workers and to inform the public.

CAA specifically advocates change and improvements in these areas:

  • Government funding for the arts and humanities
  • Freedom of expression and against censorship
  • Intellectual-property rights
  • Preservation of the artistic integrity of public spaces
  • Higher education and technologies to facilitate distance learning
  • Philanthropy for the arts and humanities
  • Tax policy as it applies to CAA members
  • Conditions in universities, museums, and other workplace environments of CAA members

CAA cosponsors and regularly sends representatives to the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museum Advocacy Days in Washington, DC. Email petitions are requested of CAA members throughout the year when legislation is being considered in Congress related to specific issues. This year’s advocacy message to Capitol Hill focused on maintaining the funding levels of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recent issues related to freedom of expression and censorship on which CAA has taken a public position include:

  • Incarceration of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
  • Removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video from the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery
  • Proposed removal of the John T. Biggers mural at Texas Southern University
  • Removal of the Department of Labor mural in Augusta, Maine
  • Adrian Piper’s placement on the Transportation Security Administration Watch List
  • Supreme Court amicus brief in support of petition for review regarding artists whose vehicular artwork was removed by the City of San Marcos, Texas
  • Supreme Court amicus brief asserting the unconstitutionality of a federal law criminalizing the depiction of animal cruelty in United States v. Stevens

In addition, CAA has been involved in intellectual-property rights, as described below.

Orphan Works

CAA participated actively in US Copyright Office proceedings to study orphan works and, thereafter, actively supported legislation—yet to be passed by Congress—that would require users to conduct work-by-work, due-diligence searches to identify and find the copyright holder. If that search failed to identify or find the copyright holder, the work could be used without the threat of injunctive relief or statutory damages. If the copyright holder emerges after the work has been researched and used, he or she could still sue the user for copyright infringement, but a losing defendant would only be required to pay the normal license fee; the proposed legislation includes a safe harbor for museums that removed works expeditiously. It is unclear if any orphan-works legislation will be reintroduced in this or subsequent Congresses. After the March 2011 decision of Judge Denny Chin of the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit rejecting the settlement of the Google Books litigation, CAA’s counsel was approached by Public Knowledge (“a D.C. public interest group working to defend citizen’s rights in the emerging digital culture”) asking if CAA remained interested in orphan-works legislation and, if so, to sign a letter to Congress requesting that orphan-works legislation be reintroduced.

Cost for Reproducing Images of Artwork in Museum Collections

In recent member surveys, one of the most critical issues articulated was the high cost of reproduction rights of works in museum collections that are not under copyright. CAA has requested formal attention to this issue from the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Fair Use

CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property, chaired by Doralyn Pines and Christine Sundt, is reviewing and proposing revisions to the Intellectual Property in the Arts section of the CAA website. The committee will also review a draft set of fair-use guidelines being prepared by the Art Law Committee of the New York Bar Association and the Visual Resources Association; after such review, the CAA Board of Directors may be asked to endorse the updated guidelines.

Extension of Copyright Term

CAA signed a Supreme Court amicus brief regarding the retroactive application of the extension of copyright term in Eldred v. Ashcroft. The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was challenged with the original complaint filed on January 11, 1999. CAA was an amicus when the case was brought to the Supreme Court, which held on January 15, 2003, that the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was constitutional (see the March 2003 CAA News).

Artist-Museum Partnership Act

CAA actively supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which establishes fair-market-value tax deductions for works given by artists instead of the current limitation to cost of materials. Information on the progress of the Artist-Museum Partnership Act is published in the weekly CAA News email, posted in the Advocacy section of the website, and communicated to the Services to Artists Committee. If and when a bill is subject to a vote in Congress, CAA will urge all members, affiliated societies, and committees to contact their representatives.

Coalition on the Academic Workforce

CAA is a member of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, which recently prepared a survey of contingent faculty. Over 30,000 individuals completed the questionnaire—many were CAA members—and the results will be tabulated this spring. Information on all aspect of working conditions is included in this survey and will assist in informing future standards and practices. CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and Education Committee are kept informed of the survey and its tabulation and will analyze the results and determine action to take that will benefit CAA members. Contingent faculty is currently responsible for 76 percent of teachers in American colleges and universities. CAA supports equitable hiring, representation, and benefits for this growing segment of the faculty.

How It Works

How does advocacy work at CAA? CAA both monitors advocacy issues and is approached by universities, colleges, organizations, and individuals who raise issues via CAA’s counsel, officers and members of the board, executive director, deputy director, affiliated societies, or other partner organizations such as the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of Art Museum Directors, or the associations of the American Council of Learned Societies. If an issue warrants action and is consistent with the advocacy policy, CAA will prepare a response. Depending on the importance and complexity of the issue, CAA will prepare an email, letter of support, or statement; cosign a letter with other organizations; or, in exceptional circumstances when legal action is required, prepare an amicus brief or support proposed legislation. All advocacy issues brought to CAA’s attention are reviewed by the counsel and the executive director. Consistent with the organization’s Advocacy Policy, the Executive Committee and, if necessary, partner organizations also review the issues. Important matters where legal action is involved will be brought to the board.

At the February 2011 board meeting, Andrea Kirsh, then vice president for external affairs, volunteered to work as CAA’s advocacy coordinator. She has since actively assisted in carrying out research and drafting letters and statements. CAA members who would like to be informed of the organization’s advocacy efforts—and spread the word—can send an email to

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.

In response to the possible sale of Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) by the University of Iowa and the state legislature, Barbara Nesin, president of the CAA Board of Directors, and Linda Downs, executive director, sent the following letter to editor of the Des Moines Register. While the newspaper did not publish this missive, it did print a letter from Paul B. Jaskot, a professor at DePaul University and CAA president from 2008 to 2010, on February 20. The next day, Jason Clayworth reported that the idea to sell the painting died in legislature.

Letter to the Editor

February 17, 2011

To the Editor
The Des Moines Register

When Peggy Guggenheim donated Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” to the University of Iowa in 1951 she was not donating the cash equivalent of the painting’s value. She was giving the University and the state of Iowa an iconic American painting. The purpose of the gift was to enrich the present and future members of the University community, and to benefit the citizens of Iowa as well as all Americans.

I am writing on behalf of the College Art Association, the nation’s premier visual rights organization, with 16,000 members—artists, art historians, other visual arts professionals and institutions across the country. It would be a major mistake for the Iowa Legislature to pass House Study Bill 84, which would compel the University’s Board of Regents to sell an irreplaceable part of the state’s patrimony.

As teachers, students and arts professionals, we acknowledge the urgent financial situation facing the University, and we note that the bill proposes that any funds earned be used to support scholarships for art majors. Any sale of “Mural,” however, would violate broadly accepted professional museum standards. More importantly, it would rob all Iowans of a remarkable painting, which was intended for them to enjoy and appreciate—in Iowa. We are hopeful that the legislature will reject the bill, to keep the painting in Iowa, where it rightly belongs.


Barbara Nesin, MFA
President, College Art Association

Linda Downs
Executive Director, College Art Association

Earlier this year, the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) published an issue brief estimating 72.5 percent of all faculty members at American colleges and universities are contingent, that is, they do not have tenure or are not on the tenure track. Since no comprehensive national data exist for pay scales, benefits, working conditions, and involvement in departmental decision-making—let alone specifics on academic-based artists and art historians, and for university museum researchers—this figure cannot be verified.

For this reason, CAW has developed a Survey of Contingent Faculty Members and Instructors, which will examine compensation and working conditions, among other issues, at the institutional and course levels. The goal of the survey, which is live from September 27 to November 30, 2010, is to gather accurate information so that CAW may advocate more effectively at the local and national level.

As an active CAW member, CAA supports workforce equity through its Standards and Guidelines, advocacy efforts, and data compilation, and it urges all contingent faculty, instructors, and researchers to complete this survey and to alert others to do the same.

Open to full- and part-time teachers, graduate students (remunerated as teaching assistants or employed in other roles), researchers, and postdoctoral fellows, the survey is an excellent opportunity for CAW to count contingent faculty properly and record their working conditions. Survey results will be shared with you once they are compiled. This information will also contribute to a national database that will assist future advocacy work.

CAA specifically requested that the survey include distinct categories for artists, art historians, and related researchers, so that the visual arts will be fully represented. On an individual level, the conclusions drawn may help determine your working conditions in relation to national trends. Results will also inform specific CAA Contingent Faculty Standards and Guidelines, as well as future advocacy by CAA on your behalf.

Take the Survey of Contingent Faculty Members and Instructors now. If you have questions about it or about CAW, please contact Linda Downs, CAA executive director.

Read reactions to the survey in Inside Higher Ed.

Filed under: Advocacy, Research, Workforce — Tags:

Despite the humanities playing a core role in higher education with strong student interest, four-year colleges and universities are increasingly relying on a part-time, untenured workforce to meet the demand. These facts, common knowledge to many professors, have been confirmed in the recently released results of the Humanities Departmental Survey, conducted by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a consortium of disciplinary associations, including CAA.

The survey includes data collected from departments of art history, English, foreign languages, history, the history of science, linguistics, and religion at approximately 1,400 colleges and universities. It is the first comprehensive survey to provide general cross-disciplinary data on humanities departments. The results are available on the academy’s Humanities Resource Center Online.

According to the Humanities Departmental Survey:

  • Across the humanities, but especially in English and combined English and foreign-language departments, professors at four-year colleges and universities are evolving into a part-time workforce. During the 2006–7 academic year, only 38 percent of faculty members in these departments were tenured. English departments had the greatest proportion of non-tenure-track faculty (49 percent)
  • When minors are included, undergraduate participation in humanities programs is about 82 percent greater than counting majors alone would suggest. For the 2006–7 academic year, 122,100 students completed bachelor’s degrees and 100,310 completed minor degrees in the three largest humanities disciplines: English, foreign languages, and history
  • Reflecting the demands of a global economy, student interest in foreign language is strong: during the 2006–7 academic year, foreign-language departments awarded 28,710 baccalaureate degrees and had the largest number of students completing minors (51,670). Yet investment in a stable professoriate to teach and study foreign languages and literatures appears to be declining, with a significant reduction in recruitment of full-time faculty members (39 percent fewer recruitments for full-time positions in 2008–9 than hires for 2007–8) and fewer total graduate students than faculty members, the only surveyed discipline for which this was the case
  • Turnover rates among humanities faculty were low—only 2.5 percent of humanities faculty left the profession through departure, retirement, or death during the two academic years preceding the survey. Combined with recently instituted hiring freezes on many campuses, career opportunities for the next generation of scholars (there were approximately 84,000 graduate students in the surveyed fields during the 2006–7 academic year) are limited
  • Approximately 87 percent of humanities departments reported that their subject was part of the core distribution requirements at their institution

The survey results provide a snapshot of US humanities departments at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The survey covers a broad range of topics, including numbers of departments and faculty members, faculty distributions by discipline, courses taught, tenure activity, undergraduate majors and minors, and graduate students. The data provide new information about each of the disciplines; they also allow comparisons across disciplines. These data are especially important because the US Department of Education has indefinitely suspended the only nationally representative survey providing information about humanities faculty, the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty.

Several national learned societies collaborated with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to develop, field, and interpret data gathered by the Humanities Departmental Survey: the American Academy of Religion; the American Historical Association; the College Art Association; the History of Science Society; the Linguistic Society of America; and the Modern Language Association. The American Council of Learned Societies and the American Political Science Association also provided important assistance. The survey was administered by the Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics, which also performed the basic data analysis.

Even though the humanities disciplines represent an essential core of the liberal-arts curriculum, they have long been data deprived. The empirical data now available in the survey, along with the rich collection of information already found in the Humanities Indicators, begin to fill that gap and to establish baselines that will allow stakeholders to track trends in the future. The academy hopes that the Humanities Departmental Survey can be expanded to include additional disciplines and updated regularly, producing trend data that could be incorporated into the Humanities Indicators.

Launched in 2009, Humanities Indicators include data covering humanities education from primary school through the graduate level; the humanities workforce; humanities funding and research; and the humanities in civic life. Modeled after the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators, the Humanities Indicators serve as a resource to help scholars, policymakers, and the public assess the current state of the humanities. The academy continues to update and expand the Humanities Indicators.

The academy looks forward to working with the National Endowment for the Humanities to advance this critical work. The Teagle Foundation provided support for the Humanities Departmental Survey project, and grants from the William and Flora Hewlett, Andrew W. Mellon, and Rockefeller Foundations have advanced the academy’s overall humanities data initiative.

Those who wish to receive announcements of new data and research on the humanities can subscribe to an email alert system at the Humanities Resource Center Online.


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has posted PDFs of two response papers, from David Laurence and Robert Townsend, on its website for download.

For journalistic analyses of the project, please read Scott Jaschik’s “State of Humanities Departments” at Inside Higher Ed and Jennifer Howard’s “Humanities Remain Popular Among Students Even as Tenure-Track Jobs Diminish” at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Filed under: Advocacy, Workforce — Tags:

The Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW)—of which CAA is a member organization—has released a new issue brief calling on institutions of higher education to work toward ensuring that all college and university faculty members are recognized and supported as professionals committed to providing a quality education to all students. Called “One Faculty Serving All Students,” the brief calls for improvements in the current staffing ratios at colleges and universities, increased support for faculty serving in contingent positions, and inclusion of all faculty members in the work and life of their institutions.

“The public has a large investment in higher education and expects a solid return on that investment,” said Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association. “For four decades, however, institutions have increasingly shifted teaching responsibilities to an ever-larger body of dedicated but underpaid and undersupported contingent faculty. It’s time for institutions to shift priorities by increasing the number of full-time faculty members in the academic workforce and by providing equitable pay, working conditions, and job security to both full- and part-time teachers whose work with students is at the core of the college experience.”

The brief sets forth four broad principles:

  1. All faculty members need to receive compensation and institutional support and recognition commensurate with their status as professional
  2. All faculty members should be aware of the recommended standards and guidelines for the academic workforce issued by their professional associations and faculty organizations
  3. All faculty members should have access to key information on academic staffing in their departments and institutions and use this information to advocate for change
  4. All long-term faculty members need to be fully enfranchised to participate in the work and life of the department and institution

“Many of the organizations in CAW have being working extremely hard on these issues and have adopted policy statements of their own,” said Linda Downs, CAA executive director. “We felt that it was important to identify areas that we could also work on as a coalition, particularly in terms of activating our collective memberships.”

CAW will work to promote adoption of the goals of this issue brief and will continue to advocate equitable and fair treatment for all members of the higher-education academic workforce.

The Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) is a group of higher-education associations, disciplinary associations, and faculty organizations committed to working on the issues associated with the deteriorating conditions of faculty working conditions and the impact of these trends on the success of college and university students in the United States. A complete list of CAW members is available at

Please feel free to download and distribute the issue brief.

Read more discussion about the story at Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Today the US State Department announced the removal of a ban on two foreign Muslim scholars, Adam Habib from South Africa and Tariq Ramadan of Switzerland, from entry into the United States. The American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups, had lobbied for several years to allow Habib and Ramadan into the country for various activities, including a position at the University of Notre Dame for the latter.

Peter Schmidt of the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has the full story, writes: “Secretary Clinton’s orders did not tackle the broader question of whether the Obama administration planned to end ‘ideological exclusion,’ the controversial practice, adopted by the federal government after the 2001 terrorist attacks, of denying visas to intellectuals based on their viewpoints.”

Today in Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports on recent work of a task force, comprising representatives from seven national and international organizations, that is raising awareness of the value of university and college art museums and galleries in light of recent events involving attempts by schools to sell work from their collections.

In “Avoiding the Next Brandeis,” Jaschik talks to the task-force cochair David Alan Robertson, director of Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, who is “trying to impress upon [regional higher-education accrediting agencies] that museums shouldn’t be viewed as extras, but as ‘teaching institutions and research institutions.’” Jaschik continues, “Another strategy being discussed is encouraging colleges to define the financial exigency plans—or what they would do in a severe financial crisis—and to make the case that museums should not be the first institutions to be closed.”

Lyndel King, task-force cochair and director and chief curator of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, tells the reporter that “we need to educate college administrators and governing boards that disposing of their collections can’t be a way to fill the coffers or seen as an easy way to bring in money.”

The task force comprises representatives from CAA, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, the International Council of Museums, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Association of Art Museum Curators. The next meeting of the task force will take place on January 9, 2010, in Sarasota, Florida, in conjunction with the midwinter gathering of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

You may read the petition, published by the task force in July 2009, and include your name and affiliation in the growing list of signatories. A prominent advertisement will appear in the Chronicle for Higher Education later this month; you can download a PDF of it or click and save the above image for use in blogs, press, and more. The task force had planned to include all signatories in the ad, but the list has exceeded 2,200 names and institutional affiliations—too many to include in print.

Filed under: Advocacy — Tags: ,

A report issued by a Brandeis University committee recommends that the school’s Rose Art Museum remain open, but the future of the collection of modern and contemporary art is still in doubt.

In the Boston Globe, Tracy Jan writes that the committee, comprising teachers, students, and university trustees and officials, also suggests better integration between the museum and academic departments, which include not just visual art but also math and science. In addition, a full-time director, who would also teach, and an education director should be hired.

This past summer several members of the Rose Art Museum’s board of overseers filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts in an attempt to prevent Brandeis from selling the art collection. Last week the university filed to dismiss that lawsuit, according to Greg Cook of the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. An October 13 hearing date has been set.

Filed under: Advocacy — Tags: ,

A Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, may not intervene in the sale of artworks that the late artist donated to Fisk University. For more than three years the cash-strapped Nashville school, which owns a substantial bequest that includes O’Keeffe’s famous Radiator Building – Night, New York (1927) and Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 3 (1913), has wanted to sell those two paintings to—and share the display of many other works in the prized collection with—the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Travis Loller of the Associated Press and Jack Silverman of the Nashville Scene have more details.

CAA encourages you to sign a petition that supports the integrity and value of university and college art museums.