NPN Joins Quanice Floyd in Call for Accountability from Americans for the Arts

November 24, 2020  •  2 minute read

Americans for the Arts convention (June 16, 2018) Arts Administrators of Color Infinity Group. Photo: Quanice Floyd.

The National Performance Network stands together with Quanice Floyd and other leaders of color in calling Americans for the Arts (AFTA) to account for its lack of transparency and accountability, failure to live up to its mission and equity statement, and upholding of institutional practices rooted in supremacy culture.

Floyd has offered an honest critique not only of AFTA but the arts service organization sector as a whole, as well as specific action steps recommended by AFTA members to which the organization has failed to respond. NPN is grateful for her labor and her leadership, and we accept with humility and urgency the charge to uproot the inequities in our sector.

A commitment to racial justice calls on us to ensure our resources are aligned with our values and to divest in institutions who are in conflict with our mission. To that end, NPN has withdrawn our membership and support of AFTA, including the 2021 Arts Action Summit. Additionally, we are engaging an Artist Advisory Council to institute greater accountability structures for our work; and we will continue to deepen our support for arts organizations led by and for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, both throughout NPN’s national network and with our arts service organization peers.

We offer gratitude to Floyd and other BIPOC leaders for opening this critical dialogue, we reaffirm our work as arts service organizations to build a more just and equitable world, and we join our colleagues in urging AFTA to respond to this challenge with both words and actions.

Updates: On November 25, 2020 current and former staff came forward with further ethical failures on the part of AFTA’s leadership. Our friends at Fractured Atlas also affirmed this necessary critique.

On December 10, 2020 leaders on AFTA’s Arts Education Advisory Council called for a change in leadership at AFTA, divestment in membership and funding, and removal of Bob Lynch from the Biden-Harris Transition Team.

A December 15, 2020 Washington Post article, based on interviews with 15 arts leaders including NPN President and CEO Caitlin Strokosch, expands on calls for the resignations of Lynch and AFTA’s senior executives. 

On December 15, 2020 fourteen members of AFTA’s Arts Education Advisory Council published a petition in which they demanded: the removal and replacement of AFTA’s top leaders, the hiring of an external auditor to assess equity issues in AFTA’s personnel practices, a restructuring of its board to increase representation and transparency, and the removal of Lynch from the Biden-Harris administration’s Arts & Humanities Agency Review team. 

On January 12, 2021 the Performing Arts Alliance Board of Directors released a statement urging for accountability from AFTA and calling for the National Arts Action Summit to center racial justice, artist equity, and community wellbeing in our nation’s cultural policy.