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What’s All This about Trigger Warnings?

posted by November 18, 2015

Survey reveals a complex picture: threats to academic freedom are not just about “political correctness.”

If the headlines are correct, college students everywhere are demanding professors provide so-called “trigger warnings” to flag material that might make them feel uncomfortable, and in some cases to allow students to avoid the material. If this is happening widely, the free speech implications are enormous: A broad range of works, from a documentary about sexual assault to an historical account of slavery, could be considered “triggering,” along with the possibility that many professors would steer clear of potentially controversial work.

But how prevalent are these demands? Is a resurgent tide of political correctness threatening higher education, or are the media jumping to conclusions?

To shed some light, NCAC worked with the Modern Language Association and the College Art Association this spring on an online survey of their members. While the survey is not scientific, the over 800 responses we received offer a birds’ eye view of the debate over trigger warnings, and the pressures on instructors.

The survey finds that formal university trigger policies are extremely rare: Less than one percent of respondents say their schools have them. But there is abundant anecdotal evidence suggesting that something is going on. It appears to be a bottom-up phenomenon: Students make complaints to individual professors or administrators, and instructors—many of whom are reasonably nervous about job security. As one survey respondent put it, “After teaching a course for the first time, a student complained in the anonymous evaluation. Ever since, I verbally include a trigger warning at the start of each semester.”

Fifteen percent of respondents reported that students had requested trigger warnings in their courses, while over half reported that they had voluntarily provided warnings for course materials, with 23 percent saying they have offered them “several times” or “regularly.”

So who is doing the complaining? In much of the media commentary, the focus is on left-leaning students using trigger warnings to chill speech they find offensive. One widely-read essay on the subject was titled, “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me.” While this is certainly happening, and many respondents reported sensitivities to content depicting rape and sexual assault, the survey paints a more complex picture. Contrary to conventional thinking, warnings are sought by both conservative and liberal students. “I used trigger warnings to warn about foul or sexual language, sexual content, or violence in order to allow our very conservative students to feel more in control of the material,” wrote one instructor. Another teacher was aware of “religious objections to nude models in studio courses” and “homoerotic content in art history.” Another teacher noted the use of trigger warnings “because some students were upset by the realization that certain artists were homosexuals.”

Another common theme is that it is impossible “to be able to predict which topics will be problematic for students, or will ‘trigger’ a response.” “I’ve had students want pretty detailed and specific trigger warnings for, well, everything…,” including violent imagery in a horror film class. Reported complaints concern spiders, indigenous artifacts, “fatphobia,” and more.

Many respondents draw a distinction between “trigger warnings” and course or content descriptions. The latter are widely accepted as ways to convey information about the scope, substance and requirements of a given course. As many instructors have pointed out, offering students information about course materials does not necessarily flag content as disturbing or offensive, or offer students an opportunity to avoid it, but simply provides an explanation about what material will be taught.

The strongest findings in the survey are that instructors believe that trigger warnings, if widely used, would threaten academic freedom and inquiry. Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) think trigger warnings have or will have a negative effect on classroom dynamics; on the broader question of academic freedom, 62 percent see a possible negative effect.

Those who oppose warnings say they reinforce taboos, infantilize students, “tend to impede conversation,” “stifle meaningful discussion,” and send a message to students “about what it’s ok for them to get upset about.” In contrast, supporters say they build trust and “create a positive classroom environment,” show respect for the “individual needs of students,” create “a positive and safe space for dialogue,” prepare students “to engage with the material in meaningful ways,” and prevent them from feeling “blindsided.”

The survey revealed that many instructors are deeply concerned about their students’ wellbeing, and how best to fulfill the mission of higher education. And the demand for trigger warnings may reflect a desire by students to be more engaged in their education and their communities, which has positive aspects. However, the trick is to ensure that such an interest is not expressed in ways that preclude discussion, debate, and even disagreement.

Reprinted from Censorship News, No. 123 (Fall 2015), National Coalition Against Censorship

Filed under: First Amendment, Students, Teaching

The College Art Association is pleased to announce that at its October Board meeting, John Richardson was elected as the new President of CAA. He succeeds Dewitt Godfrey and will serve a two-year term beginning May 1, 2016. Richardson is currently CAA’s Vice President of External Affairs.

Richardson chairs the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.  Richardson says of his election, “I’m honored to be selected for the position of the President. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. During my term I will provide leadership in the implementation of the CAA strategic plan with a particular focus on rejuvenating the Annual Conference and being an advocate for the membership.”

Richardson earned his graduate degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his undergraduate degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He is represented by Causey Contemporary Gallery, New York, NY.

Founded in 1911, the College Art Association is the preeminent learned society in higher education visual arts and curatorial practice with a membership of over 10,000 individuals and institutions internationally. The CAA aims to promote the visual arts and their understanding through committed practice and intellectual engagement.

Linda Downs, executive director and chief executive officer of the College Art Association (CAA), has announced her retirement, effective February 2016. Under her direction during her nine-year tenure, CAA celebrated its Centennial with a new visual identity and reestablished itself as the largest and most active association in the academic and museum visual-arts field. CAA has been a strong advocate on critical issues in the field, including workforce issues such as equity for part-time faculty, changing the restrictions on visas for international scholars and artists, and state and federal support for visual-arts higher education. CAA has made major improvements to its publications: current and archived issues of The Art Bulletin and Art Journal are now available online as a result of a copublishing partnership with Taylor & Francis; became a fully open-access online journal with an increased readership; and the Art Journal Open website was established, with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, to focus more on artists and to complement Art Journal articles in print.

Over thirty professional guidelines and standards were developed through the expertise of the Professional Practices Committee. A task force supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation was established to develop the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, which has greatly clarified what fair use is and how to utilize it for third-party images and materials in creative and scholarly work. CAA has changed its journal author contracts accordingly. Book and author subventions increased to approximately sixteen per year through the support of the Mellon Foundation, Terra Foundation for American Art, and Wyeth Foundation for American Art. International membership increased through the CAA/Getty International Program, which supported attendance and seminars on international issues at the past four Annual Conferences. The Professional Development Fellowships for Art Historians and Artists was reinstated. A new project, Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals, that was initiated by the Museum Committee and funded by the Mellon Foundation will establish a social community forum to promote the exchange of information related to the integration of academic art museums into various academic disciplines of study. Following CAA’s strategic plan, task forces have been established to review the structure of the nine Professional Interest, Practices, and Standards Committees, provide guidelines for digital art and architectural history in promotion and tenure, transform and extend the Annual Conference, review the governance structure, and address greater inclusion and attention to design in programs and publications. CAA has laid the groundwork for transforming itself in directions that are critical to the support of the visual-arts field.

The CAA Board of Directors has expressed its admiration for Downs’s outstanding leadership. DeWitt Godfrey, board president, stated, “Linda has brought CAA to a new professional level of service to members and the visual-arts field. We wish her well in retirement and thank her for her dedicated service.”

CAA has organized a search committee and will retain a search firm to seek a new Executive Director.

About CAA

The College Art Association is dedicated to providing professional services and resources for artists, art historians, and students in the visual arts. CAA serves as an advocate and a resource for individuals and institutions, nationally and internationally, by offering forums to discuss the latest developments in the visual arts and art history through its Annual Conference, publications, exhibitions, website, and other programs, services, and events. CAA focuses on a wide range of advocacy issues, including education in the arts, freedom of expression, intellectual-property rights, cultural heritage and preservation, workforce topics in universities and museums, and access to networked information technologies. Representing its members’ professional needs since 1911, CAA is committed to the highest professional and ethical standards of scholarship, creativity, criticism, and teaching. Learn more about CAA at

For more information, please contact Nia Page, CAA director of membership, development, and marketing.

Filed under: People in the News

CAA’s Annual Conference provides an important platform for the dissemination of new research and creative work. It also provides opportunities for networking, hosts workshops on crucial career topics, tackles pressing issues in the field, and provides an opportunity for institutions to interview candidates for open positions. In an effort to serve its members more effectively, CAA has established a Task Force on the Annual Conference to address ways of providing more occasions for members to exchange work and scholarship. The task force will also investigate greater uses of technology to extend the conference beyond its physical location and increased networking opportunities for professionals in the visual arts. The changes announced below are only the first round of a more thorough redesign of the conference, a very much renewed and improved version of which will be introduced in the coming years.

In preparation for the next Annual Conference, to be held February 3–6, 2016, in Washington, DC, and in an effort to strengthen the Annual Conference while providing an even greater value to the membership and our profession, members of the CAA Board of Directors and the Task Force on the Annual Conference have recommended and approved the following changes:

  • Allowing members to present papers and chair sessions in consecutive years at the Annual Conference
  • Extending the Annual Conference through low-cost webinars to accommodate those affected by reductions in funds for professional travel. CAA will offer webinars on a regular basis that will highlight the content generated by members
  • Conference registration, opening in early October 2015, will have only one advance registration period that will end on December 21, 2015
  • A new discounted registration fee for CAA members who are part-time faculty or are independent artists and scholars
  • Institutional members may purchase specially discounted student memberships and register their students for the conference at deeper discounts during the advance registration period. These discounts will not be available onsite
  • CAA members will be hired to be room monitors and to work at CAA’s registration area for a stipend and free conference registration rather than hiring temporary staff to fill these roles
  • Providing a conference that serves members. Everyone who participates (i.e., presenter, speaker, chair) must be a current CAA member at the time of the conference
  • All participants will need to either register for the entire conference or purchase a single-time-slot ticket for the session in which they are participating. This change applies to sessions led by all CAA affiliated societies and special-interest groups

CAA must proactively respond to the escalating costs of producing the Annual Conference. Ever-increasing expenses include staffing the conference, union rates at hotels, guaranteeing minimum numbers of attendees, and providing audiovisual equipment and WiFi. In the past, many sessions were offered without requiring CAA membership or conference registration. CAA can no longer subsidize the attendance and participation of nonmembers and nonregistrants. In order for CAA to maintain the high quality of the conference and to meet the needs of its members, we ask for your support as we introduce these changes to improve the conference experience.

The 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, will be outstanding. The keynote speaker will be David Adjaye, architect of the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall and newly designated architect of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Richard J. Powell is CAA’s Distinguished Scholar, and Joyce Scott is the Distinguished Artist who will be interviewed. CAA will sponsor an MFA exhibition with student artists from around the region and host a reception for all CAA members at the Katzen Art Center at American University. In addition, the Annual Conference Committee for the DC meeting is preparing special tours to artists’ studios and museums and organizing special events.

Washington is home to a host of outstanding museums and other cultural institutions, and CAA has not held a conference there since 1991. We are very pleased to bring the conference to Washington, DC, and grateful for the support of our membership and institutions in that region. You will not want to miss this exciting event! Please refer to for ongoing updates and news about the 2016 Annual Conference.

Filed under: Annual Conference, Membership

During a conference call on July 9, 2015, with representatives of learned societies, auction houses, and government agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that looting of antiquities in Syria and Iraq has taken place. They have also received confirmation from informants and found evidence of industrial levels of looting from satellite photos. The FBI asked the participants on the call to ask their constituents to follow due diligence and to reach out if anyone suspects objects to have been looted. They emphasized that most of the art market is relatively “clean,” meaning that most objects bought and sold have not been looted or illegally sold. However, it usually takes two years for looted items to begin to flood the market.

The FBI requested expert cooperation. Trafficking in cultural property is covered by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and by the US Criminal Code, in which it is considered criminal to “providing material support” if an expert in antiquities even suspects that objects have been looted and a report is not made to the FBI. one can call 855-835-5324.

The responsibility of the FBI is to dismantle illegal trafficking networks, not to provide data or set policy. The FBI is currently working on outreach that will better inform the public, create more awareness, and address reporting procedures.

CAA has invited FBI to address CAA members at the 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2016, on what antiquities experts should be aware of if they suspect they have found looted objects, and if reporting to the FBI would involve antiquities experts in legal processes and disclosure to the public. The FBI will also provide an update of the sites that have been looted in Syria and Iraq, and they will address current criminal law and international treaties related to sale, purchase, and possession of antiquities.

Trigger Warnings

posted by June 22, 2015

Trigger warnings was the topic addressed on a panel—organized by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and CAA—that took place at the one hundredth anniversary conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Washington, DC, on Friday, June 12, 2015. Joan Bertin, executive director of NCAC, led a group of speakers that included Shaden Tageldin, professor of cultural studies at the University of Minnesota and chair of the MLA’s Women’s Committee, Anita Levy of AAUP, and DeWitt Godfrey, professor of art and art history at Colgate University and CAA president.

Faculty at several universities, including Wellesley College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have adopted procedures to warn students, on syllabi, of disturbing topics that could trigger posttraumatic stress disorder or other strong reactions to subjects that will be presented in class. Students who may be affected are allowed to miss the class in which the identified work is discussed.

CAA and MLA prepared an informal survey in preparation for this panel and sent it to all members. Bertin summarized the results in her introduction. The survey found that less than 1 percent of the respondents’ institutions have adopted a policy on trigger warnings. However, 23 percent of faculty report that they have voluntarily provided warnings several times or regularly. Student-initiated efforts have instituted trigger warnings represent 7.5 percent. Fifteen percent of faculty indicated that students in their classes have requested warnings in the course they teach. Roughly 12 percent of respondents report that students have complained, either to the instructor or to administrators, about the failure to provide warnings. And 45 percent of respondents who have had first-hand experience with trigger warnings see it as a real threat to academic freedom. Many respondents added comments to the survey regarding their approaches, policies, concerns, and questions about trigger warnings. The panel will be reviewing them and preparing a document that summarizes them to assist other faculty in approaching this issue with their students and administrators.

Godfrey believes that trigger warnings are a form of self-censorship that induces doubt, fear, and intimidation in students as well as faculty. He called on faculty to reassert the humanities as a space of speculation and imagination at the center of human experience and to help students confront the unfamiliar in order to change it. “Art is where cultures and communities work things out,” Godfrey said, “where we come to terms with the unfamiliar and reexamine the familiar.” He sees a shift from the “politically correct” to “individual correctness,” where any one person’s trauma is, by definition, the greatest trauma. The individual now is asserting a right never to be offended or challenged intellectually. This shuts the door on exploration and discussion. There is also a chilling effect on faculty who are increasingly subject to administrative, student, and parental criticism and evaluation. Trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women on campus, but the result is that they find themselves in a place that can be identified as that of the political right. (CAA has published the text of Godfrey’s presentation.)

Tagilden indicated that trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women related to the trauma of rape, and that there should be a clear differentiation between mediated reality and reality in the classroom, so that students can move beyond their own limitations and find outlets and language to deal with traumas instead of normalizing victim appropriation. If students opt out of classes with difficult material, it automatically places the personal on a political plane.

What is the cause of this interest in protecting students from topics that may be difficult or traumatizing to address? Some in the audience saw it as coddling students for fear of criticism being levied on faculty. Some saw it as a question of race and class privilege. Students who have lived protected lives determine the need for treatment of all students. Others see it as a new generation of students isolated and unable to handle personal interaction as described in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.

The panel will be reviewing all the comments from respondents to the CAA/MLA survey to cull the most useful approaches that were recommended from the field to address the issue of trigger warnings. These recommendations will be posted by NCAC, CAA, and MLA in the near future.

Filed under: Education, Students, Teaching

Suzanne Preston Blier, Vice President for the Annual Conference, is heading the CAA Task Force on the Annual Conference and, along with other members of this group, she is seeking suggestions from CAA members on the kinds of changes that you would like to see.

Among the suggestions that have already been initiated is the following:

CAA has decided to return to its earlier policy of allowing members to annually submit proposals, present a paper, or chair a panel. This is a change from the every-other-year format that had been followed in recent years. Our goal is to keep members engaged and participating in CAA’s Annual Conference on a yearly basis.

Please send your suggestions to

Filed under: Annual Conference, Governance

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Letter

posted by April 15, 2015

CAA sent the following letter on April 9, 2015.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Letter

Daniel Ashe, Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Mr. Ashe:

We are writing on behalf of the 11,000 art historians, curators, artists and conservators who comprise the membership of the College Art Association, a learned society for higher education professionals in the visual arts, regarding the changes suggested by the Association of Art Museum Directors to the proposed regulations, “Endangered Species Listed Objects and Objects with African Elephant Ivory (“Objects”).

CAA supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s and the Association of Art Museum Directors’ efforts to end the poaching of elephant tusks throughout Africa and to end the commercial gain from these slaughters. At the same time we also understand the difficulties that import and export regulations impose on museums, collectors and conservators to traveling exhibitions, loans of individual art works, bequests of works of art, donations of art works and importation of art objects that contain ivory.

We support the Association of Art Museum Director’s suggested changes and respectfully request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife adopt these changes to the Endangered Species Listed Objects and Objects with African Elephant Ivory.

Sincerely yours,

DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President

Linda Downs, Executive Director

Cc: Judith McHale
Chair Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking
c/o Cane Investments, LLC
3 West Main St.
Suite 101-1
Irvington, NY 10533

Update on CAA Task Forces

posted by April 06, 2015

Task forces are established on occasion by the CAA Board of Directors to carry out research, address issues that are critical to the academic visual arts and art museums and require a limited commitment of time. There are currently seven task forces at CAA that have been established by the Board of Directors.

Task Force on Fair Use

Established in October 2012, this task force is cochaired by Jeffrey Cunard, CAA Counsel and Managing Partner of the Washington, DC, office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and Gretchen Wagner, former General Counsel, ARTstor, and former member, Committee on Intellectual Property. Its twelve members have been overseeing a four-year fair use initiative supported by an initial grant from the Kress Foundation and a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Led by the efforts of Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide of American University, the first two years included interviews with 100 artists, art historians, curators, editors, librarians, publishers; a survey of 2,000 CAA members; and discussions with another 100 visual arts professionals. Based on the consensus developed through this process, the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts was published in February 2015 and presented to the CAA membership at the Annual Conference. Over the next two years the task force will assist in the dissemination of the Code through webinars, presentations at conferences, and in small meetings of professionals in the visual arts. The project will be completed in December 2016.

Download the Resolution to Form Task Force to Develop Fair Use Guidelines.

Task Force on Advocacy

Established by the Board in February 2015, this task force is chaired by Jacqueline Francis, Associate Professor, Visual and Critical Studies, California College of the Arts. The task force is charged with prioritizing CAA members’ critical advocacy issues.

Download the Resolution for a Task Force on Advocacy.

Task Force on the Annual Conference

Established by the Board in February 2015, this task force is chaired by Suzanne Preston Blier, CAA Vice President for the Annual Conference and Allen Whitehill Clowes Chair of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. The task force is charged with evaluating the structure, format, and technologies of the Annual Conference to facilitate information exchange, presentation of creative work, and professional support of members.

Download the Resolution for a Task Force on the Annual Conference.

Task Force on Committees

Established by the Board in October 2014, this task force is chaired by Charles A. Wright, CAA Vice President for Committees and Professor and Chair, Department of Art, Western Illinois University. The task force is charged with reviewing the nine Professional Interest Practices and Standards (PIPS) committees of CAA in order to ensure that the 2015–2020 Strategic Plan priorities, the structure of the committees, and the organization best meet the needs of CAA members.

Download the Resolution for a Task Force on Professional Interests, Practices and Standards Committees.

Task Force on Design

Originally established by the Board in May 2014 and recently reconfigured, the task force is chaired by Jim Hopfensperger, CAA Board Member and Professor of Art, Western Michigan University. The task force is charged with addressing and making recommendations on how to increase the sessions on design at the Annual Conference, engage designers as members, and address guidelines specific to designers.

Download the Resolution to Form a Task Force on Design.

Task Force to Develop Guidelines for Evaluating Digital Art and Architectural History for Promotion and Tenure

Established by the Board in October 2014 and supported by funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this joint task force of CAA and the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) is co-chaired by DeWitt Godfrey, President, CAA and Professor of Art and Art History, Colgate University; and Ken Breisch, SAH President and Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Southern California. The Mellon grant supports a research assistant, Alice Lynn McMichael, Graduate Center Digital Fellow and Digital Dissertations Liaison, The Graduate Center, CUNY and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Hunter College; and a statistician, Raym Crow, Chain Bridge Group. The task force charge is to develop guidelines for digital art and architectural history for use in promotion and tenure.

Download the Resolution to Establish a Joint CAA and Society of Architectural Historians Task Force to Develop Guidelines for Evaluating Digital Art and Architectural History for Promotion and Tenure.

Task Force on Governance

Established by the Board in October 2014, this task force is chaired by DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President and Professor of Art and Art History, Colgate University. The charge is to review the structure and transparency of Board of Directors’ responsibilities to better serve and communicate with CAA members.

Download the Resolution for a Task Force on Governance.