Culture/SHIFT 2016

New Arts and Culture Agenda Lays Roadmap for Resistance and the Protection of Culture Under Incoming Administration

Written by:
Michael Wade Simpson
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St. Louis, M.O. – At a gathering of artists, activists and policymakers this week, the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) released a 10-point policy and action agenda, Standing for Cultural Democracy: The USDAC’s Policy and Action Platform, to ensure the protection of Americans’ right to culture locally, regionally and nationally under the incoming Trump Administration.

“After numerous attacks on critics, and his misogynist, xenophobic rhetoric during the campaign season, Donald Trump’s administration is poised to mount a serious assault on cultural democracy,” said Adam Horowitz, USDAC Chief Instigator. “The USDAC plans to resist attacks on the right to culture — from attacks based on religion, cultural heritage, or political views. We also plan to fight back in local communities across the country — working to combat gentrification, and fight for the freedom of expression, social justice, and environmental justice.”

The USDAC’s platform is intended to help rebuild and expand America’s cultural infrastructure and ensure full cultural citizenship for all Americans. Specifically, it calls for communities at the local and state level to:
Create Cultural Impact Studies to blunt the impact of over-development and gentrification in American cities by allowing residents to clearly see the impact of potential developments on cultural and social fabric. The USDAC will be organizing in communities such as New York City and Lawrence, Kansas to push for pilot programs of this policy;
Adopt a Policy on Belonging, guaranteeing full cultural citizenship to all community members, regardless of identity or immigration status.
Provide a basic income grant (BIG), which would provide a guaranteed annual wage to all, including artists, freeing people to contribute to the public good; and,
Invest in the arts to revive cultural infrastructure. Resurrect the Works Progress Administration in the form of a modern-day Culture Corps, establishing local, regional, and national programs to employ artists, supporting muralists, sculptors, poets, and actors to rebuild and expand our country’s cultural infrastructure.

Currently, there is no official cabinet or department dedicated to guiding our nation’s arts and culture agenda. For the last three years, USDAC has stepped in to fill the gap, establishing a people-powered network of artists, policymakers, culture activists with a strong commitment to culture in hundreds of cities and towns across the country.

In the face of direct attacks on the right to cultural citizenship, and for communities to exist and show up as they are, the USDAC’s platform provides a roadmap for resistance to a national agenda that devalues culture and encourages division.

From a press release issued by USDAC.

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