Robert L. Lynch retires from AFTA leadership amid accusations of hostile workplace, racial inequity

May 27, 2021

It has been more than 5 months since Americans for the Arts' Arts Education Advisory Council, citing racial inequity, lack of accountability, and a hostile work environment, called for Robert L. Lynch and others to be removed immediately from their leadership positions at Americans for the Arts—with support from current and former staff of Americans for the Arts (AFTA) as well as organizations across the field including the Guild. Lynch, who has been on paid leave since December 2020, will now retire. The findings of investigations into the issues of racial inequity and a hostile work environment under his leadership have not been disclosed.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Nolen Bivens, who has been serving as interim president during Lynch’s leave and is a former board member of AFTA, will replace Lynch as president and chief executive. 

The announcement from AFTA's board states: “Bob has dedicated his life to the arts, in particular increasing access to the arts for everyone, and we know he will continue to be a passionate advocate for many years to come.” 

AFTA’s board hired Proskauer Rose, an international law firm based in New York City, to investigate employees’s claims of a hostile work environment, and the Hewlin Group, a consulting firm for employment issues with offices in D.C., to review its workplace policies and procedures, including those related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Those investigations have ended, according to the board’s statement. It did not disclose their findings.


Read more on the Washington Post.

Published: May 27, 2021