Arts Education Council’s Response to Recent AFTA News + Upcoming National Town Hall

June 3, 2021

In a statement, the Arts Education Council speaks on Americans for the Arts (AFTA)’s lack of transparency in their failure to disclose findings from their recent investigation, and their lack of field engagement throughout the process since the council first issued a call for accountability and list of demands to AFTA in December 2020. The statement references a similar statement by the Performing Arts Alliance expressing their disappointment in "the missed opportunity for AFTA to begin the process of full transparency and accountability within the Arts community".

An excerpt from the Arts Education Council's statement: "This council publicly called for the resignations of Bob Lynch, Mara Walker, and Marc Ian Tobias in December 2020. More than six months after our calls for accountability, the public retirement of Mr. Lynch and the silent departures of Ms. Walker and Mr. Tobias are a first step to rebuilding the AFTA that this country’s arts and culture sector deserves, but it is only that: a first step. While we welcome the news that these senior leaders are no longer at the helm of Americans for the Arts, AFTA has much work yet to do to repair the harm caused — most directly to BIPOC-led arts and culture organizations — by decades of gatekeeping and resource-hoarding, spearheaded by their senior leadership...we were also disappointed to hear that there would not be a public, national search for Mr. Lynch’s replacement, and hope that Brig. Gen. Bivens spearheads a transparent and public process that will include soliciting member input so that senior operations positions will be filled with transformational community leaders who have proven their commitments to racial equity in the arts."

The Arts Education Council will now tranform from an advisory council affiliated with and in service to AFTA, into a national Progressive Arts Education Coalition working with leaders across the country to advance a more equitable arts education, creative economy, and cultural sector. They will hold an open national town hall slated for National Arts in Education Week (September 12–18) to refine a set of values and a national agenda for the arts education field. You can sign up for their mailing list to be alerted when registration for the Town Hall goes live.

Read the Arts Education Council's full statement here.

We agree with all points raised about continued lack of accountability and transparency, and look forward to seeing the Arts Education Council's next steps take shape. Our partnership with (and membership to) AFTA continue to be ceased until we see true accountability and change.


Published: June 04, 2021