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CAA News Today

May 31, 2012

Dr. Mary Ellen Lane
Executive Director
Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)
PO Box 37012, MRC 178
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Dear Dr. Lane,

We are writing in support of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers’ (CAORC) proposal to the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to continue the work and operations of overseas research centers and of CAORC itself.

Our organization’s particular experience was with The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII), without whose help we would not have been able to bring Salam Atta Sabri, the Director of Iraq’s Museum of Modern Art to the College Art Association’s Annual Conference in Los Angeles this past February. Mr. Atta Sabri was the recipient of a highly competitive and distinguished grant to participate in an international meeting of art historians, curators, and artists during the conference. From the outset, Beth Kangas, director of TAARII, and Nada Shabout, professor of art history at the University of North Texas, offered support in any way possible, including help obtaining a visa, help arranging travel, and advancing funds for the entire trip, because Dr. Sabri was not permitted to receive American dollars in Iraq. CAA could not have accomplished this work without TAARII’s active support. (Additionally, TAARII then arranged a speaking tour for Mr. Sabri to several universities in the United States, enriching his visit here substantially.)

As the scholarly world becomes increasingly global, organizations such as TAARII, and all the groups supported by CAORC, become ever more important. We fully endorse the CAORC proposal to continue the work and operations of overseas research centers and CAORC itself.


Anne Collins Goodyear

Linda Downs
Executive Director

Linda Downs is CAA executive director, and Anne Collins Goodyear, associate curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, is the incoming president of the CAA Board of Directors.

Anne Collins Goodyear and Linda Downs attended a day of meetings and panel discussions presented by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). The event, held on March 19, 2012, in Washington, DC, stressed the practical significance of the humanities for a democratic society and highlighted the important contributions of recent research projects. It also helped prepare participants for Humanities Advocacy Day, taking place on Capitol Hill the following day. CAA is a member of NHA, which advocates federal funding of the humanities. In addition to its annual meeting, NHA organizes Humanities Advocacy Day, which brings critical information to participants and prepares them for congressional visits to support the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Fulbright Program, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and numerous Department of Education programs in the humanities.

The first panel introduced a wide variety of historical research projects, such as the Dictionary of American Regional English, which took ten years to develop, according to its senior editor, Luanne von Schneidemesser, and now has a broad value to researchers of all kinds, from linguists to forensic detectives. Kenneth Price, a professor of literature at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, discussed the Walt Whitman Archive, an online resource of thousands of documents related to the poet’s writings, and Colin Gordon, a history scholar at the University of Iowa, talked about his recent book, Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City. Finally, Connie Lester, a professor of history at the University of Central Florida, presented the Regional Initiative for Collecting the History, Experiences, and Stories, an oral-history program that is taking place in her state. Each project demonstrated its uses to both academic and public researchers.

Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, led a second panel that focused on “The Role of the Humanities in Undergraduate Education,” offering a historical case study of James Madison to illustrate the value of prolonged study in the humanities as a means to cultivate flexible and cohesive thinking. Madison studied the classics and philosophy at New Jersey College (later renamed Princeton University). After graduation, having no specific profession or direction, he moved back home with his parents and asked the president of the college if he could continue studying under his tutelage, in effect becoming the first unofficial graduate student of the college. Madison eventually put his academic background to good use when he became the primary author of the Bill of Rights, adopted by the House of Representatives in 1789, and was later elected the fourth president of the United States. Rawlings stressed that liberty and learning are intrinsic to the humanities, noting that countries with autocratic political systems can have successful science and math curricula but that the arts and the humanities require freedom of expression to flourish.

The panel’s second speaker, Raynard Kington, president of Grinnell College and acting director of the National Institutes of Health, observed that humanities majors tend to be “life-long learners,” and that many leaders, even in the sciences, have strong humanities training. The humanities, he noted, might benefit from a stronger advocacy base that could demonstrate the tangible benefits of humanities training as a means of encouraging legislators and administrators to protect humanities education, even at times of financial duress.

The role of the humanities in undergraduate education in direct relation to the job market was addressed by Sandra L. Kurtinitis, president of the Community College of Baltimore County, which boasts a student body of 45,000. She emphasized that two-year schools provide every student with an introduction to the humanities regardless of his or her associate-degree curriculum. Kurtinitis’s figures were astounding: 50 percent of all incoming freshmen at American colleges and universities are enrolled in one of 1,200 community colleges across the country, and the average age of the freshman class has risen to twenty-eight. Five million more students, she told us, will enroll in community colleges by the year 2020. In closing, Kurtinitis emphasized that all degrees lead to jobs, whether students decide to pursue careers as varied as poets, artists, nurses, or electricians.

In his keynote address, Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University and cochair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, described the blue-ribbon panel of corporate and academic leaders who have come together to address the importance of the humanities in education and American life. Echoing Raynard Kington’s story about James Madison, Brodhead evoked an America that was built on the values of humanism and a strong liberal-arts education and called attention to the plight of budget cuts across the country that are scaling back humanities programs in elementary and high schools.

Brodhead stressed the wide-ranging, lifelong effect a thorough education in the humanities can have for an individual, no matter what his or her chosen profession is. “The kind of intelligence that has brought the broadest benefits to our society,” he said, “is an active, integrative mind awakened to multiple forms of knowledge and able to combine them in new ways.” As part of Humanities Advocacy Day, on March 20, the panel presented recommendations to President Barack Obama and to Congress in support of the humanities in higher education.

NHA has published a summary of the 2012 annual meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day, and Duke Today has printed the written text of Brodhead’s keynote address, “Advocating for the Humanities.”

Images from top to bottom: Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Luanne von Schneidemesser; Raynard Kington; and Richard H. Brodhead (photographs provided by the National Humanities Alliance)

US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter that requests funding for the National Endowment for the Art and the National Endowment for the Humanities for fiscal year 2013, as requested in President Barack Obama’s federal budget. CAA encourages you to contact your senators, asking them to sign the letter.

NEA/NEH FY13 Letter to Appropriators

This letter requests funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at the level requested in the President’s budget, which is $154 million for each endowment. This is the same level included in the Senate’s FY12 Interior Appropriations mark. More details below:

  • The FY12 President’s Request – $146.255 million for each endowment
  • The FY12 Enacted – $146.255 million
  • FY12 Senate mark – $154 million
  • The FY13 President’s Request – $154 million

Staff Contact: Jeanette Lukens,

Deadline for Signatures is COB Monday March 26th.

Dear Colleague Letter

March 27, 2012

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Capitol, S-128
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jack Reed
Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Vice Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Capitol, S-128
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Ranking Member
Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Cochran, Chairman Reed, and Ranking Member Murkowski:

We write to express appreciation for your continued support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and to urge you to support the President’s funding request for the endowments as outlined in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. As our nation grapples with economic uncertainty, federal support for the arts and humanities is a vital economic, educational, and cultural priority that impacts communities across the United States.

The NEH is the primary source of federal support for humanities research and related activities in the United States. It provides support for professional development to scholars, educators, curators, librarians, historians, filmmakers, and more. Through the endowment’s efforts, heritage is preserved, civic institutions are strengthened, and Americans are better prepared to address the challenges in a constantly changing world. In addition to appropriated funding, the NEH is able to leverage significant, non-federal contributions through competitive grant awards, with direct matching totaling more than $2 billion over the last few decades.

Federal funding for the NEH includes support for state humanities councils who work in partnership with the endowment to reach millions of Americans each year through teacher institutes, family literacy programs, and thousands of other programs. With this extensive network of state humanities councils and general NEH programming, the endowment reaches every state and territory across the nation.

For over 40 years, the NEA has provided strategic leadership and investment in the arts and has proudly expanded arts activity across the nation with the mission “to bring arts to every American.” For every one dollar spent on federal arts initiatives there are eight non-federal dollars leveraged while at the same time children and communities are enriched through access to the arts that they might not otherwise have.

Federal funding for the NEA acts as seed money that generates massive economic return with the non-profit arts industry generating $166.2 billion annually in economic activity and supporting 5.7 million full-time jobs. Additionally, the federal government enjoys a direct return of $12.6 billion in income taxes, as well as the indirect benefit of improved education, community development, and increased business activity across the country.

The President’s requested funding for FY13 for the NEA will help the endowment maintain its extremely successful programs, including The Big Read, Our Town, Challenge America, The Mayor’s Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative, Blue Star Museums, Shakespeare in American Communities, and Operation Homecoming. In FY11, the NEA awarded over $124 million in appropriated funds through just over 2,400 grants reaching all 435 congressional districts.

Thanks to your leadership, the NEH and NEA continue to play a vital role in every state. We urge you to continue to support federal funding of the arts and humanities in FY13 by adopting the President’s request level for both endowments in your final appropriations legislation. We appreciate your attention to this vital funding, and look forward to working with you on this and the other important issues facing our nation.


On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, the American Association of Museums (AAM) sent the following email regarding federal funding for the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services. AAM represents the entire scope of museums and their professionals and nonpaid staff: more than 18,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, almost 3,000 institutions, and 250 corporate members.

Act Now: Ask Your US Senators to Support the IMLS Office of Museum Services

Once again, in conjunction with Museums Advocacy Day, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide $50 million in FY13 for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The deadline for Senators to sign on to this letter is THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2012. Ask your Senators to SIGN THE GILLIBRAND APPROPRIATIONS LETTER today!

“Our collective efforts in the U.S. House resulted in a record number of supporters on the House Dear Colleague letter, with many Members of Congress signing on specifically because they were asked by constituents,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “Now we must ask Senators to join the Senate letter. Museums are a wise investment for Congress because they pump $20 billion into the economy and support 400,000 jobs, and Senators need to hear from us.”

Current funding for the Office of Museum Services is $30.8 million, the same amount requested in President Obama’s FY13 budget.

Please visit to learn more about advocacy for museums.

Duane Webster, interim executive director of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), sent the following Humanities Action Alert by email on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Founded in 1981, NHA is a nonprofit organization that works to advance national humanities policy in the areas of research, education, preservation, and public programs.

Dear Colleague Letters Circulating in the House

Dear Colleague,

Please help support the humanities by taking a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to sign two important Dear Colleague letters currently circulating in the House of Representatives.

National Endowment for the Humanities
Representative David Price (D-NC) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter in support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The letter, addressed to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies, requests $154.3 million for NEH in FY 2013. This is the same level requested by the President. A copy of the letter is available here. Please ask your Representative to sign this letter. Click here to send an email today. The Alliance has set up a template message for you to customize. You can also contact your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The deadline to sign the letter is March 16.

Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education and Foreign Language Programs
Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter in support of Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education and Foreign Language programs. The letter, addressed to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education, requests no less than $75.729 million for these programs. This is the same level requested by the President. A copy of the letter is available here. Please ask your Representative to sign this letter. Click here to send an email today. The Alliance has set up a template message for you to customize. You can also contact your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The deadline to sign the letter is March 14.

Thank you for your assistance with these important issues. The signatures on these letters will provide an important record of support for federal humanities funding in the House of Representatives.


Duane Webster
Interim Executive Director
National Humanities Alliance

CAA encourages you to register and take part in three upcoming events this winter and spring in Washington, DC: Arts Advocacy DayHumanities Advocacy Day, and Museums Advocacy Day. At each, participants meet their senators and representatives in person to advocate increased federal support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Previous lobbying experience isn’t necessary. Training sessions and practice talks take place the day before the main events—that’s why, for example, Arts Advocacy Day is actually two days, not one. Participants are also prepped on the critical issues and the range of funding requested of Congress to support these federal agencies. It is at these training sessions where you meet—and network with—other advocates from your states. The main sponsoring organization for each event makes congressional appointments for you.

You may have mailed a letter or sent a prewritten email to your congressperson or senator before, but legislators have an algorithm of interest for pressing issues, in which a personal visit tops all other forms of communication. As citizen lobbyists, it’s also important to have a few specific examples about how arts funding has affected you: don’t be afraid to name-drop major cultural institutions—such as your city’s best-known museum or nonprofit art center—in your examples of why the visual arts matter in your state.

If you cannot attend the three advocacy days in person, please send an email or fax to your representatives expressing your concern about continued and increased funding for the visual arts. If you don’t know your representative or senators, you can look them up at

Museums Advocacy Day

The American Association of Museums (AAM) leads Museums Advocacy Day, taking place February 27–28, 2012, at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center. With support from numerous nonprofit organizations, including CAA, AAM is developing the legislative agenda for this year’s event. Likely issues will include federal funding for museums, museums and federal education policy, and charitable giving issues affecting museums.

The entire museum field is welcome to participate: staff, volunteers, trustees, students, and even museum enthusiasts. Museums Advocacy Day is the ideal chance for new and seasoned advocates to network with museum professionals from their state and to meet staff in congressional offices. Registration has closed, but AAM is taking participants on a case-by-case basis.

Humanities Advocacy Day

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA), along with a host of other groups and learned societies, including CAA, sponsors Humanities Advocacy Day, to be held March 19–20, 2012, in conjunction with its annual meeting. Scholars, higher education and association leaders, and policy makers will convene first at George Washington University for the conference and then on Capitol Hill for congressional visits and a reception.

The preliminary program includes: NHA’s annual business meeting for voting members; discussion of humanities funding and other policy issues; a luncheon and keynote address with Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University; and presentations of current work in the humanities. Learn more about registration, which is open until March 1, 2012.

Arts Advocacy Day

To be held April 16–17, 2012, Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together America’s cultural and civic organizations with hundreds of grassroots advocates, all of whom will underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Sponsored by Americans for the Arts and related organizations, including CAA, the event starts at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on the first day, before participants head to Capitol Hill on the second. Registration can be made through March 30, 2012.

With the eighth round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement taking place this month in Chicago, experts in intellectual property and information policy from around the world have released a Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest that challenges the dominant direction of the negotiations on intellectual property in the United States’ trade agreements. Those in support of the declaration can express support with an online signature.

The declaration was created through a consultative process with over 180 experts from thirty-five countries in six continents at the Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, which took place August 25–27, 2011, at the Washington College of Law at American University. Citing an “unprecedented expansion of the concentrated legal authority exercised by intellectual property rights holders” through recent trade agreements, the experts call for new efforts to “re-articulate the public interest dimension in intellectual property law and policy.”

Read more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in the Chicago Tribune and at Intellectual Property Watch.

Humanities Advocacy Day took place on March 6–8, 2011, and Arts Advocacy Day on April 4–5, 2011. Five members of the CAA Board of Directors represented CAA: Linda Downs, Barbara Nesin, Judith Thorpe, and Jean Miller, who contribute reports below, and Andrea Kirsh. CAA’s development and marketing manager, Sara Hines, also joined the ranks of attendees, which ranged from seasoned arts administrators, artists, scholars, curators, and educators to young students aspiring to enter these fields.

Humanities Advocacy Day

Linda Downs is CAA executive director and recently became secretary of the National Humanities Alliance board of directors.

On March 8, I represented CAA during Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), this three-day event gathered advocates from across the country to meet on Capitol Hill to inform their senators and representatives about the importance of the humanities in their districts and to support federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Advocates usually don’t meet their representatives directly, but their staffers tally every visit and report on messages sent.

This year, more than two hundred people from colleges, universities, professional associations, and state humanities organizations visited 107 House and Senate offices representing thirty-four states. Participants asked that Congress maintain the NEH’s enacted level of $167.5 million for fiscal year 2010. The strong attendance indicated how important this annual event is and, in particular, that an increasing number of art-minded citizens were highly concerned about the proposed Congressional budget reduction that would eliminate the NEH. With colleagues from the state of New York, I targeted new members of Congress to inform them about the importance of the humanities in their districts.

Preceding Humanities Advocacy Day was the NHA annual meeting, which took place March 6–7 and included advocacy training, a workshop on finding grants, and panel presentations. In his keynote address, David Skorton, president of Cornell University, emphasized the importance of humanities education for cultural understanding and for the security of the United States. During a luncheon, Leslie Berlowitz, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, announced the launch of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will bring together scholars and corporate leaders to propose steps to strengthen the humanities nationally. On one panel, three individuals demonstrated how effective, important, and creative current humanities research is: Ashley Marshall, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, uses digital statistics to reinterpret eighteenth-century studies; Tara McPherson, associate professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, established the Vectors Journal at her school, an online venture that introduces an interactive publishing platform to humanities scholars; and Damon Dozier, director of public affairs at the American Anthropological Association, described the association’s RACE project that explores all aspects of the concept of race and has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers  over the past three years.

The humanities community made a strong impact on Congress this year. At this time of writing (late April 2011), the NEH remains in the Congressional budget, albeit at a reduced amount.

Arts Advocacy Day

Barbara Nesin is an artist, a professor and department chair of art foundations at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Georgia, and the president of the CAA Board of Directors.

Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day offered a full day of training followed by a second day of meeting Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill with the aim of preserving federal funding for the arts during an especially challenging economic period. During my first time attending the event, I learned how to speak about not just the intrinsic value of the arts, but also their real economic value in this country and the importance of the arts in education. In training sessions hosted by Americans for the Arts, my colleagues and I were given the voting history and committee work of our representatives and, when in conversation with them later, were told to highlight how the arts function as a business magnet, create jobs and tax revenue, attract tourism, and foster the country’s creative advantage internationally. We didn’t neglect education, as the arts strengthen academic performance in a variety of disciplines, such as science, technology, English, and math, and contribute to an innovative, competitive workforce.

This year, advocates had to prepare a unified message that was pertinent to current budget and political realities. Furthermore, those of us who wear more than one hat—for me, being a CAA board member, a professor and administrator, and a resident of Georgia—needed to understand the context of each position in relation to the overall mission for the day. We had to make a strong case to save the NEA’s budget for fiscal year 2012 and to maintain $40 million appropriated for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs and grants.

Americans for the Arts provided me with a wealth of information about pressing state issues, identifying key politicians with critical influence and importantly emphasizing that now is not the time to point out disparities in federal support between, for example, the visual and performing arts. What was the right approach? A consistent, nonpartisan message supported by facts and real-life examples, practical solutions, and a convincing, definite ask.

Before coming to DC, I had consulted my home institution’s public-relations department to determine appropriate topics and strategies. I also reviewed issues close to CAA’s heart, ready to share information about tax reform in the arts: preserving incentives for charitable giving, extending the IRA Charitable Rollover, and rejecting attempts to create a hierarchy for deductions to nonprofits that discriminates against the arts. I also wanted to ask for support for the Artist–Museum Partnership Act—something CAA has advocated for many years—which would allow artists to deduct from their federal income tax the fair-market-value of works of art donated to and retained by nonprofit institutions. (Currently artists can only deduct the cost of their materials used to make the work). Improving the visa process for foreign guest artists was also on my list of topics.

Even though representatives from Georgia raced to attend emergency meetings regarding the difficult budget negotiations that threatened to close down the government that very week, my group managed to meet several of them and speak to the staff of others. In some cases, staffers invited us to leave informational materials provided by Americans for the Arts, which outline major funding issues and, through maps and statistics, pinpointed concentrations of arts-related business in each representative’s district—with actual dollar amounts.

Since my school has already cultivated excellent relationships with several Congressional leaders in my state, I built on that firm groundwork by sharing a sincere “thank you” for the specific ways in which each had already supported the arts, regardless of his party or voting record. These representatives—whether recognized friends of the arts or not—responded supremely to people from their own district, whether by residence or place of employment. On that local turf, there was not one who had not made some effort to demonstrate their concern for arts education and some type of arts programming to their own community. From that point, conversations went one of two ways.

To those who had previously opposed arts funding, I emphasized the significance of the arts to economic development—that is to say, I talked jobs, jobs, jobs. Armed with hard figures that proved how the arts generate substantial employment and investment in specific districts and nationally, I made the case that opposing arts funding puts many people out of work and damages local economies that depend on the arts to attract employers and business activity. Keep in mind that even a single arts event generates not only sales of tickets or art objects, but also uses numerous surrounding services and accommodations, including printers, web designers, restaurants, and hotels. These are not insignificant dollars, and no politician wants to be viewed by constituents as opposing much-needed, economically healthy free enterprise. In addition, staunch supporters of cutting taxes listened with interest when my group spoke about implementing tax benefits that would have a real impact on estates and museum collections. If such representatives were at all concerned about swing votes in their district, it would not cost much in real dollars for them to support some form of arts funding. Even a slight increase would have a dramatic and highly visible effect—something investors might call an attractive “rate of return.”

In the offices of strong supporters of the arts is where I successfully addressed other issues that CAA has been working on. Staffers in Representative John Lewis’s office told me that orphan works was not on their radar before but will be now, promising to research the subject and bring it to Lewis’s attention. Finally, we offered ourselves as resources to these elected officials and asked them for advice on what we could do to assist them.

I was gratified to see a good number of graduate students among the five hundred plus attending Arts Advocacy Day. As a CAA member and an art educator, I was keenly interested in what students had to say, especially when speaking from their personal experience. One young woman finishing her master’s in arts administration made an impassioned plea for assurance of jobs when she graduates. When I described CAA to them, several students in programs of social policy and arts administration were excited about becoming actively involved in the organization, particularly in the area of advocacy. CAA needs to continue building these connections.

As the largest organization for the visual arts in the country, CAA has significant membership numbers—more than 12,000 individuals and 1,800 institutions—that amplify considerably when counting those who belong to the affiliated societies, making us a potentially powerful voice. Congress listens to voting constituents. Although CAA doesn’t vote, it does represent an exponential body of voters. If we want the visual arts better represented on a national level, CAA is an ideal body to do so year round.

This year’s was a success: participants helped preserve federal funding for the arts in large measure, with much smaller cuts than originally proposed, and saw first-hand our full potential reach and influence. I encourage as many members as possible to attend future Arts Advocacy Days.

Arts Advocacy Day

Judith Thorpe is an artist, professor of photography, and head of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is also a member of the CAA Board of Directors.

Two years ago, riding on the recent election of Barack Obama and the promise of increased funding for the arts and humanities, participants in Arts and Humanities Advocacy Days felt vibrancy and excitement in the air. The atmosphere in Congressional offices during Arts Advocacy Day in 2011 contrasted with that optimism tremendously. Facing budget and partisanship battles daily, federal legislators threatened once again to not just reduce but extinguish all NEA initiatives and Department of Education programs for Arts in Education. In the end, Congress did not axe the endowment as feared and returned $25 million to Arts in Education for fiscal year 2012. Truth be told, these amounts are so small that their impact on the national budget is negligible. These annual skirmishes, however, continue to reflect the raging ideological battles regarding the arts in this country.

Events of a week in which Congress canceled appropriations hearings and a budget stalemate nearly closed down the federal government subdued advocacy meetings with senators, representatives, and their aides. My group from Connecticut found it difficult to advocate more than flat funding for the NEA, but we asked the offices of Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and Chris Murphy to renew their commitment to the arts and to join or continue serving on the Congressional Art Caucus and the Senate Cultural Caucus.

In order to benefit the arts and humanities—and the interests of CAA in particular—we must develop a means to send advocates to meet specifically with key members of Congress during the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museums Advocacy Days. CAA’s vast number of professionals in academia, museums, and elsewhere should be heard in a focused manner, and members of the CAA Board of Directors may need to get more involved in organizing participation in the three national advocacy days.

Attending this year sharpened my awareness of how members of Congress perceive the role of the arts differently in this country. That said, I was heartened to see bipartisan support for the arts and encouraged to advocate continued and greater support for the arts. It was quite a civics class!

Arts Advocacy Day

A member of the CAA Board of Directors, Jean Miller is associate dean of administrative affairs of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas in Denton. She also oversees her schools Design Research Center in Dallas.

I became acquainted with Americans for the Arts and attended Arts Advocacy Day for the first time in 2009 as a representative of CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and a resident of the state of Maryland. This year, I represented CAA as a board member and cochair of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) Advocacy Task Force. Now a Texas resident, I also made efforts to cultivate a relationship with members of Texans for the Arts.

Although Arts Advocacy Day has a similar structure and comparable messages from year to year, the underlying sense of urgency during the 2011 proceedings made it markedly different from those of 2009. This was due in part to the possibility of the government shutting down during the budget talks. All advocates intensely felt the charged atmosphere during the Americans for the Arts–sponsored Congressional Arts Breakfast and later on Capitol Hill when meeting representatives and their staff.

Like my colleagues above, I was impressed by the record attendance of over five hundred advocates from around the country, gathering to communicate a consistent message about the value of art and culture in our lives to Congress. Actors Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin and several other celebrities joined attendees over the course of the two days to lend their voices in support of the arts and artists. As they spoke candidly about their mentors and career opportunities, these individuals served as great moral support and inspired us to strategize together to position the arts better in the national budget conversation.

To help frame discussions with legislators and their staff, advocacy leaders urged us to take a practical, bipartisan approach to all conversations. At the same time, they also encouraged us to send a clear, strong, and persistent message to Congress about sustaining NEA funding—not increasing it as we had asked in the past—and to share stories about how the NEA has had a strong impact on our communities and states.

Were we successful? I believe that yes, as a committed group of arts professionals and students, we took the time to study current issues, applied an advocacy framework to discuss important points, and stood up as citizens to increase visibility for the arts locally and nationally. Was it enough? Unfortunately no. What else could CAA do as an organization? Perhaps we can strengthen ties with its affiliated societies, which in sum represent over 300,000 people, and use a large collective voice in support of advocacy efforts. With the affiliates, CAA can design strategies to reach the political leaders who are in positions of making the tough budget decisions. With many CAA staff and board members involved in strengthening connections to affiliated societies and working on advocacy and outreach, I think this is entirely possible.

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

Jessica Jones Irons, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), emailed the following Humanities Action Alert on April 15, 2011. Founded in 1981, NHA is a nonprofit organization that works to advance national humanities policy in the areas of research, education, preservation, and public programs.

House and Senate Dear Colleague Letters

As you know, Congress just passed a final, compromise bill on funding for the current fiscal year (FY 2011). Along with cuts to most federal agencies and accounts, there are significant reductions in spending for critical humanities programs. NEH funding was cut by approximately $12.5 million (7.5%), with a final level for FY 2011 of $154.69 million (including a .2% across-the-board rescission). Far more drastic cuts were made to two critical Department of Education accounts: Title VI/Fulbright Hays International Education Programs (cut by $50 million—about 40%), and Teaching American History grants (cut by $73 million—about 61%). We will continue to post updates to the NHA website on efforts to restore funding to these and other programs.

In the meantime, ongoing advocacy efforts for FY 2012 humanities funding continue. Last Friday we let you know about two Dear Colleague letters circulating in the House and Senate in support of the humanities. If you have not done so already, please take a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to sign the NEH dear colleague.

The deadline for Representatives to indicate their interest in signing the House letter, sponsored by Rep. David Price (D-NC), is today (April 15). The deadline for Senators to sign the Senate letter, sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), is April 25.

The Alliance has set up template messages for you to customize. Click here to send a message to your Representative. Click here to send a message to your Senators. If you would prefer to call the offices directly, you can do so through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Updated lists of signers are available here.


Jessica Irons
Executive Director
National Humanities Alliance