ssues of political and social debate are often at the forefront of art-world activism. Some of the most contentious issues have spurred both art-world figures and members of the general public to take action, often employing online petitions to rally people to their cause. This virtual activism has proliferated in recent years, and while not all proposals yield immediate results, there is no doubt that many of the campaigns are helping to enact change. Here’s a roundup of the headline-grabbing calls to action since 2017.
Timeline: January–March 2017
The Issue: In 2017, artists including Jasper Johns, Marina Abramović, Cindy Sherman, James Turrell, and Richard Serra banded together to demand that President Trump spare arts funding, following preliminary budget proposals that would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Outcome: The petition launched by PEN America garnered more than 200,000 signatures, and the arts community’s worst fears were allayed when the budget finally agreed upon provided funding for the cultural organizations—for now. This month, Trump again proposed zeroing out funding for the NEA and NEH in 2019. It remains to be seen whether another petition will be launched to oppose the latest proposal. Read more