Lines and Colors is on strike today, January 20, 2017

Lines and Colors is on strike today, January 20, 2017

There will be no new posts today on Lines and Colors about art or artists, no lovely images of art to inspire or amuse you. This is perhaps a portent of things to come, but today it’s just a protest.

Lines and Colors is on strike today in support of the J20 Art Strike, calling for arts organizations and institutions to not do business as usual as a symbolic act of resistance to the looming shift in government power, and the potentially disastrous effect it will have on the arts, humanities and creative endeavor and discourse in general.

Yes, it’s a small, mostly symbolic gesture, but so are the recently announced plans by the incoming administration to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

It would cut $296 million from the federal government’s almost $4,000,000,000,000.00 federal budget as a “cost saving” measure.

Even ignoring the fact that it’s been demonstrated that every Federal dollar spent on arts funding brings back nine or ten times that amount to the treasury in the form of increased economic activity and tax revenue, the amount of “savings” represents less than two tenths of one percent of the federal budget – for all practical purposes, statistically insignificant.

So this is really a gesture, a raised middle finger to the arts community to let us know how much they despise us.

Given the avowed intentions and previous actions of many of the legislators now taking control of the congress, this is likely just the first in a series of ongoing actions that will make the creation of art and the free exchange of ideas more difficult in the coming years.

In the past, I’ve tried to keep my political views in check when writing Lines and Colors, and have only expressed them in subtle ways.

That ends today.

These people have declared themselves the enemy of much that I care about, and are therefore my enemies.

Little acts like this, and anything I may say, are also likely statistically insignificant, but I have to make some kind of symbolic statement of resistance to avowed enemies of the arts, even if just for my own sense of self respect.

In writing for Lines and Colors, I’ll keep my expressions of concern related to the arts, but I’ll state them clearly. If you don’t like them, you’re welcome to comment, but I won’t tolerate flame wars, and I reserve the right to control what does or doesn’t appear on my own blog.

Lines and Colors is, after all, my opinions about art and artists — what I find valuable or of interest and consider worth sharing with others. If the expression of my political opinions as they relate to the health of the arts community in this country offends you, you’re welcome to seek inspiration elsewhere.

If you think I’m overreacting, you’re welcome to your opinion. Bookmark this post and put a reminder in your calendar to stop back in four years to see if I was wrong. (I desperately hope I’m wrong.)

That is, of course, if Lines and Colors is still here in four years.

One of the other announced initiatives of the incoming wave of big business uber alles is the elimination of Net Neutrality — from which control of the internet will be ceded to the telecoms and big entertainment companies.

This will happen so gradually you won’t notice at first, but it will change inexorably until the web becomes more like TV — a one-way flow of content and information from corporate producer to consumer, and a one-way flow of money in the other direction.

Oh, you’ll still be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but big content sites from the corporate providers will download like lightning (if you pay for them), and independent sites like Lines and Colors will start to load slower and slower and slower until they’re too painful to use.

If you don’t know what Net Neutrality is, or why it matters, see this handy explanation in comics form from Economix.

For more on the strike, see the J20 Art Strike page.

More to the point, if you want to know why I feel this way, see my plea to Lines and Colors readers prior to the election to vote in defense of the arts: “Vote like the future of the arts in the US depends on it“, in which I go into more detail on why I think this administration and the accompanying shift in power in the congress bode ill for the arts community in this country.

They’re just this day assuming office, and — sadly — I already have to say “I told you so.”


83 Replies to “Lines and Colors is on strike today, January 20, 2017”

  1. 100% with you. Thank you for taking a stand, and thank you for this beautiful blog.

    As someone who has maintained a small, independent writing community for years, I desperately hope you’re wrong, but yeah… not holding my breath. :/

  2. What a bunch of wimps. Art will not stop, and I doubt it suffers at all. Even in the death camps of Europe ion the 30’s and 40’s, are was carried on, and even survived. You’re just a bunch of spoiled babies who didn’t get your way. But I’m sure you are using for your model of nonsense the violent acts and riots of the Republicans in 2008 and 2012 . . . OH WAIT . . . there weren’t any.

  3. It’s not that art will cease, it’s that the foundations of a healthy national arts community will be weakened. Please take the trouble to read my post on what I think will be affected — one element of which has just been announced — to understand exactly what I think the damage will be. (I’m surprised you’re still able to state your opinion since Obama took away your guns and your liberty and instituted Sharia Law. Oh wait, he didn’t.)

  4. Thanks, Charley, for today’s urgent message and for all you’ve brought us. Lines and Colors expands and enriches my world. Here’s to surviving these coming years. I agree — symbolic statements of resistance originate with preserving individual self-respect and integrity. Multiplied in the lives of many, such acts may even accumulate a power that transcends the individual and affects outcomes.

  5. Thanks, Steve. Yes. It’s really a battle of values, and values are held by individuals. Those who value arts, humanities and culture in general in the face of opposition from those who value only money and power may make more of a difference in numbers than our individual voices might suggest.

  6. Charley
    I am with you 1000%. I still can’t believe that the boiled ham in a blond wig is going to be president. I am sick to my stomach. It’s a very dark day for America. This thing with the a taste for the gaudy, superficial and shinny is going to be a disaster. His idea of art is that hack portrait of himself he purchased at auction with money stolen form his own charity.
    How does a bullshit artist who is a billion dollars debt bamboozle his way to the whitehouse
    I already read that they plan to scrap the National endowment of the arts and humanities and privatize the corporation for public broadcasting.
    I hope that he fails and is tossed out, definitely a one term president.

  7. Thanks, Richard. It’s a their cultural attitude (or, more accurately anti-cultural attitude) that concerns me in this regard. They really do despise anything that smacks of arts or intellect rather than greed and power.

  8. Charley,
    At the moment I feel that my opinion is of no consequence, please have faith that “Beauty will [still] save the world”. We all so enjoy your articulate presentation of such beauty here on Lines and Colors.
    May I say that this is the time to come together in positive, nurturing, and CREATIVE ways, and that #45 is not worth listening to.


  9. Charley,

    I am a regular and enthusiastic follower of your blog from Germany. It has always been an inspiration!

    Even here in Germany most people are seriously worried about what is going on in your country. It seems like the triumph of primitivity and lies over rationality. Unfortunately, there are tendencies into that direction in Germany, too. We ought to watch very carefully what changes will be made in our societies and especially in the media in the upcoming years. So I wholeheartedly support your gesture of protest!

    Keep on posting!


  10. I disagree with this. I am not convinced that a shift to the right is in any way a serious detriment to the arts. Public funding is challenged yes. Funding in some cases is removed yes. But – even in the Eighties there was never a top-down government squashing of the free expression of art. This seems like an overstated and overly dramatic response to losing an election. There will be another in four years. I have always followed and enjoyed this site. I do disagree with this post.

  11. Thanks for the comment, Todd. I certainly hope you’re correct, but it’s not a shift to the right politically the concerns me, it’s the individuals both in the incoming administration and the leaders of the new congress, who have distinctly regressive attitudes toward the arts, arts funding and creative freedom in general. There have been top-down squashings of freedom of expression on a small scale in the U.S, particularly in previous calls to eliminate funding for the NEA over art projects of which there was disapproval on “moral” grounds.

    But I’m more concerned that the tendencies shown by these people are too reminiscent of large scale top-down repression of the arts — particularly arts that were expressing disapproval of the political establishment — in the history of other countries in Europe and Asia. The tendency is always there in people who cling to power to repress dissent. Art is often a dissenting voice. I really hope you’re right and I’m wrong, but I think, given the history and stated intentions of many of the individuals now assuming power, the situation is one in which alarm is warranted.

  12. As I wade into this issue, I see that artists will have gained greater freedom to express themselves rather than lost anything. Hasn’t it always been up to the artist to pursue what is truly important to them. Getting the government out of the arts is a good thing. The only reason we need government is to continue to give us the freedom and to preserve it. I further feel that if this does come to pass, that we will look back on this day and agree how good it was that our government gave us back what was truly ours all along…freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

  13. Thanks for the comment, Brian.

    While I understand your belief, I think it’s a terrible mistake to think that removing government influence from a given area will “return control to the people”. The reality is that removal of government influence is more likely to cede control to the interests of the wealthy and powerful. When their interests are contrary to those of the general public — as they often are — a government that represents the interests of the public is the only factor large enough to provide some protection.

    The NEA and government contributions to the arts are only a tiny factor in overall arts activity in the U.S., but their status is symbolic of whose values are being protected. I’m more concerned about shifts in Net Neutrality, copyright law, freelance contract law, tax status for arts institutions, removal of investment from public and higher education and other issues that I believe will be negatively effected by the current shift in power. Please see my previous article on the matter for specifics of what I fear will be lost and damaged in this transitions.

  14. I’m standing with you Charley. And I applaud your speaking out about the dangers that the new administration represents. The dangers of Trump’s agenda goes well beyond what it means to the arts. Many of our other freedoms face erosion under the incoming regime. Everyone who cares about freedom of expression, in whatever form, must speak out and make their position known. It’s crucial to take action and not just hole up in hopes of waiting it out.

    I follow your blog almost daily Charley and have a deep appreciation and gratitude for what you do.


  15. Charley , I understand your point of view,

    Here’s the difference for me.

    We are American. We are at the very root people who push against authority whether it comes from the Right or the Left. It would be more pertinent to be cautious of political figures if we were Russia, or any other country that has made it’s trade in a cultural “cleansing”. But we are not.
    We are beautiful, pissy, loud Americans. Any approach from the Powers That Be is generally met by us with a “Yeah?!!, You and Who’s Army?”

    That is what makes us beautiful. Too often the mores of other countries are applied us without taking stock of what we actually are.

    I understand your concern. We are gonna be fine.
    Nobody but Patti Smith knew who Maplethorpe was. After Reagan – everybody did. He grew – he wasn’t diminished.

    Thank you for your response and thoughts on the matter.


  16. Thanks, Todd. I certainly hope you are correct and Americans will resist the push of repressive authority; in my own small way, that’s what I feel I’m doing here.

    But I think it’s a dangerous mistake to believe that our American culture or backgrounds make us immune to the kind of changes that took place in Germany, Italy and Japan prior to WW II, and in Russia and China in the years since. Many of us are of a heritage that traces directly back to those countries and their people. In many ways, we are them, and what happened there can happen here if we’re not careful and allow the warning signs to go unheeded.

    It’s not so much the event of the announcement that the NEA and other government agencies that support the arts will be defunded that alarms me, it’s the attitude and intentions behind the action.

  17. Thanks Charley… I’m with you. To paraphrase a recent editorial; “when small-minded, hateful people start grabbing at the levers of power, all you can do is remain vigilant, stand with those more vulnerable than ourselves, and brace for impact.”

  18. Totally with you on this, Charlie. A small number of posters here don’t seem to see the whole picture. Considering the appointees for positions in the Cabinet, all of whom appear to be opposed to upholding the true mission of that seat, the dismantling of public education is frighteningly possible. Courses in art appreciation, art history and actual art classes have been whittled away since the Reagan Years. Same said for music unless your child wants to be in a marching band for the football team. This “Dumbing Down” is most evident in the painfully bad English grammar evident in so many comments made in any hate-filled response to a rational mind. So I guess language and literature are going to be kicked to the curb as well, which will have detrimental effects in our ability to communicate clearly and meaningfully.

    When an appointee for the secretary of education is more concerned about having guns in our schools in case of an unlikely grizzly bear attack, we are really in trouble. Bigly trouble.

  19. Thanks, Lane. Yes, I fear you’re correct; not only do most of these people oppose arts or humanities education in schools, many of them oppose public education in total! But then, an ignorant and misinformed population is easier to keep under control.

  20. Say it out loud, as you have done with this post. No matter how small the voice, say it. As you have said I too hope you are wrong about the slashing of funding of the arts and its long term affect. We will see in four years.

    I also am more worried about the Net Neutrality and its affect. It seems that reversing the effects of THAT would be far harder to overcome than re-instating the arts, the NEA etc, with a new administration in four years.
    Harder because big business behind it is a harder wall to topple.

  21. Thanks, David.

    Yes, the elimination of Net Neutrality is my biggest concern in this issue as well — it will be more damaging than the other policy changes, and you’re correct that it will be harder to reverse.

  22. Had NEA presented the quality of artwork and thoughtful critiques at the same level that you have sir, I don’t think this would have happened… I don’t mind tax money going to support the Great Masters (past and present), however, to me, things like putting in a blank piece of paper in a typewriter and calling it “Unfinished” is not a good investment of my time or money…

  23. Thanks, Art, both for your comment and the kind words about Lines and Colors. I have to agree that I have seldom see work I consider interesting or particularly appealing being promoted by NEA grants — which seem to favor modernism and conceptual art — but my concern is not with the value of the agency itself, but with the attitude that all federal funding for the arts and humanities should be curtailed. It’s a symbol of the intentions of those now in power towards the arts community in general.

  24. I wanted to add this – The actor, Gregory Peck was one of the founding members of the Nat’l Endowment for the Arts, appointed by LBJ. A quote from Peck in 1965 reads “When we strive for greatness in artistic expression we open avenues for the expression of greatness in the human spirit.”

  25. I’m with you, Charley. I’m old and retired so I can’t strike but I will be marching tomorrow in the local Women’s March in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington DC. Love your blog and your principles!!

  26. Thank you, Charley, for this extremely well-written post. This has been a very sad day for me. There have been Presidents with whom I have disagreed and haven’t been happy with in the past, but never before have I ever actually been afraid of what they might do. This one is a loose cannon. I don’t trust anything he says. I believe he is disingenuous when he claims he is doing this for the American people. And I worry about his apparent inability to prevent himself from lashing out at anyone and everyone, from women to disabled reporters to other political leaders, like a spoiled, rude, school yard bully at the slightest provocation. He is putting a great many things I care about, including support for the arts and the CPB in his cross-hairs. Hopefully, we will be wrong, and if not, hopefully, he won’t be allowed to do too much damage in the next 4 years. Let us hope for a quick 4.

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