Just days after the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) issued an eleventh-hour amendment on its already-signed contracts with grantees that prohibited “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, and/or excessively violent” projects from being funded, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office rescinded the controversial guidelines.
On Thursday evening, DCCAH sent a letter to all its grantees explaining that the amendment was an “over-correction” and has been officially rescinded.
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evan initially confirmed the news to the Washington City Paper. “It should never have been sent out in the first place,” he said. “We should not be censoring artwork or anything of that nature. It was not well thought out.”
Evans added that Rhona Friedman, an attorney and Ward 2 DCCAH commissioner alerted him to the amendment. He later spoke with the mayor’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, who confirmed that the amendment would be rescinded.
Friedman’s apparent dismay about the updated contract agreement gives credence to rumors that the censorship push came from inside DCCAH’s staff and not from the commissioners overseeing the organization. There are, however, conflicted accounts. The contract was signed by Angie Gates, the commission’s interim executive director, and general counsel. But an email has circulated over the last few days by one commission member who says that “commissioners weren’t made aware of this before it was sent out to the grantees.”
Responding to Hyperallergic’s request for comment, DCCAH spokesperson Jeffrey Scott indirectly confirmed the amendment’s rescindment in a message of support to the city’s arts community:
“The Bowser Administration stands firmly behind our shared DC Values and will always strive to uphold our mission of service to the District and its residents. The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities believes deeply in the right to freedom of expression and would never seek to violate that right by censoring the work of any grantee.
Mayor Bowser’s steadfast commitment to our diverse and vibrant Arts and Humanities community will not waiver. We look forward to a continued investment and collaboration with our District creative community.”
Although the mayor’s office plans to rescind the order, it’s not expressly clear what that would mean for artists and nonprofits that have already resubmitted their contracts with the censorships clause intact.
The quick demise of the amended contract is largely a credit to DC’s intimate network of artists and nonprofits. Groups like the Washington Project of the Arts and International Arts & Artists alerted the media to the story while a local critical arts writing collective, DIRT, publicized the censorship controversy on social media.
Ceramic fried eggs, critiques of real estate, and a whole booth dedicated to female-identifying saints caught my eye at Untitled, NADA, and Art Miami.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office recovered 23 looted objects from Shelby White’s home over the last year and a half.
The award-winning Canadian artist explores notions of power through the imagery of science fiction in portraits, sculpture, and objects.
An egregious “anti-woke” billboard erected in Los Angeles attempts to sow division among Latino/a/x communities.
This week, missed signs of previous life on Mars, the appeal of forged art, and why are blue whales singing in lower octaves?
This affordable, interdisciplinary program with excellent facilities and private studios offers in-person instruction for 2023.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed forcefully posits multiple parallels between the world Nan Goldin grew up in and the one she fights in today.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Bob Thompson, Aimee Goguen, Uta Barth, the Transcendental Painting Group, and more.
The latest episode of this documentary series on PBS explores the meaning of home through handmade objects, hand built homes, and the artists who create them.
There is the singular artist and then there is the more exclusive club that has only one member. Harvey belongs to the latter.
The artists say the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma must sever ties with Poju Zabludowicz, whose wealth comes in part from Israeli defense contracting.
Rhode Island School of Design opens registration for its residential summer Pre-College program and year-round online intensive Advanced Program Online.
Vanessa Albury, whose eco-friendly ceramic sculptures help revive filter-feeder populations, is raising funds to complete her first film about the project.
An archeological exploration of the amphitheater’s sewers and water systems uncovered remnants of meat, vegetables, olives, nuts, and yes, pizza.