This has been a trying week for the public art field across the country. I have heard from many of you, expressing concerns and challenges as your communities turn to you for aide in addressing Confederate memorials and symbols in your public arenas. Please know that you are not alone in your work. The conversations and community meetings that have happened and will happen are necessary for our country to move forward. Your role is essential to your community, and we are here to support you.
Today, Americans for the Arts released a Statement on the Intersection of the Arts, History, and Community Dialogue emphasizing our support that the arts and artist play in creating civil and just dialogue when confronting challenging topics in our communities. Public art reflects the stories and histories we most want to tell ourselves, the lessons we want to learn, the pride we collectively hold, and the memories and priorities with which we craft our communities’ futures. Confederate monuments are symptoms of larger issues of systemic racism and white privilege that pervade far beyond these statues; public art reflects and makes permanent our deepest beliefs, both good and bad. Our communities use public monuments as artistic commemorations of what we deem important.
Americans for the Arts supports ongoing community dialogue around truth, reconciliation, and removal and replacement of the various artistic and cultural vestiges of white supremacy and racism in the United States, and the installation of monuments commemorating narratives of emancipation, shared strength, and equity. We recommend that local arts agencies and other arts institutions join these dialogues in concert with affected communities.
Please take a moment to read the statement, which includes tools and resources you can use right away to address this topic, and let us know what is happening in your communities by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be safe, and take care of one another out there.
Patricia Walsh is a member of Americans for the Arts.