The Remaining Members of the Presidential Arts Commission Resign in Protest

by Jen Hayden –

Another embarrassing day for Donald Trump in the White House. The presidential arts commission and humanities is effectively disbanding itself:

The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel are resigning on Friday in yet another sign of growing national protest of President Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

Members of the President’s Committee are drawn from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community and plan to release a letter later Friday explaining their decision, according to two people familiar with the decision who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the plans.

More on the history and goals of the commission:

Created in 1982 under President Reagan, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. PCAH works directly with the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education and cultural exchange.

Here are the remaining members who are expected to resign. Note that it doesn’t appear Donald Trump has even bothered to name his own commission members. And why should he? He hasn’t even bothered to fill critical State Department diplomatic and security roles.

Members of the commission are Obama-era holdovers, including the actor Kal Penn, a longtime Barack Obama supporter and former White House staffer; director George C. Wolfe; painter and photographer Chuck CloseJill Udall, the former head of cultural affairs for New Mexico and the wife of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.); and entertainment executive Fred Goldring, who helped produce the “Yes We Can” video with musician Will.i.am in support of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Perhaps he will replace these talented folks with the likes of James Woods and Scott Baio?

Friday, Aug 18, 2017 · 12:17:56 PM EDT · Jen Hayden

Here is the full letter. The resigning members didn’t simply resign from the committee, they called on Donald Trump to resign.

Dear Mr. President:

Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville. The false equivalences you push cannot stand. The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions. We are members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH). The Committee was created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues. We were hopeful that continuing to serve in the PCAH would allow us to focus on the important work the committee does with your federal partners and the private sector to address, initiate, and support key policies and programs in the arts and humanities for all Americans. Effective immediately, please accept our resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American. We have fought slavery, segregation, and internment. We must learn from our rich and painful history. The unified fabric of America is made by patriotic individuals from backgrounds as vast as the nation is strong. In our service to the American people, we have experienced this first-hand as we traveled and build the Turnaround Arts education program, now in many urban and rural schools across the country from Florida to Wisconsin.

Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding. The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Action, and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we love. We know the importance of open and free dialogue through our work in the cultural diplomacy realm, most recently with the first-ever US Government arts and cultural delegation to Cuba, a country without the same First Amendment protections we enjoy here. Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed.

Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.

Thank you,

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos