Arts Council of New Orleans helps national arts organization sound call to fight potential funding cuts under Trump administration

untitled-designSupporters of the Arts Council of New Orleans received a stunning plea in their email, courtesy a message from the Americans for the Arts Action Fund. The plea opened with a link to a Thursday (Jan. 19) media report from The Hill that new President Donald Trump’s transition team was planning to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities with other plans to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It went on:

This decades-old proposal from the politically conservative Heritage Foundation and House Republican Study Committee is expected to be included in this year’s Congressional House Budget Resolution, as it has in previous years. However, it would be much more serious if it were also proposed by the Trump Administration. Legislative and executive branch action will start moving very quickly now. We need everyone to be prepared, organized, and educated about what’s at stake. Please help us recruit more free Arts Action Fund members, spread the word, and raise some money to support our grassroots activities. The Arts Action Fund will continue sending important updates to you.”

The story quickly got picked up and shared by multiple other media outlets over the next 24 hours. I’ve contacted the Arts Council of New Orleans about the email (which primarily features Americans for the Arts Action Fund branding) and possible expanding on this messaging and hope to hear back. The Fund bills itself as “America’s largest arts advocacy organization,” and the email plea (signed by Executive Director Nina Ozlu Tunceli) recommended several opportunities to act against this reported move (with links included):

  1. “1. Share this page with your personal network. Ask at least five of your friends to join the Arts Action Fund for FREE.
  2. Post onFacebook and Twitter to help rally national support to save the NEA. There is strength in numbers and your social media friends can help.
  3. Contribute to the Arts Action Fund to help fund our grassroots advocacy campaign to keep the arts alive.
  4. Register for the Arts Advocacy Dayconference on Capitol Hill on March 20-21, 2017.”

Check out this outline of the story as vetted by the fact- (and often myth-) checking site Snopes, which also noted a Washington Post article that states that the programs represent 0.02 percent of the federal budget. (Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch is quoted in the Washington Post article.)

Hopefully I’ll have more information later.



Hundreds gather to support trans and gender non-conforming youth of color at Congo Square (photos and video)

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Backed by the support of the community advocacy group BreakOUT!, a crowd of about 200 people rallied at “Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience/Resistance” to show solidarity for trans and gender non-conforming youth of color on Sunday (Nov. 20) at Congo Square inside Louis Armstrong Park. Advocates delivered speeches, provided informational brochures, staged healing demonstrations, handed out inspirational signs, led a small march into the French Quarter as a side project, handed out symbolic roses, and even staged a “mannequin challenge” as part of the event.

(Check out a Facebook Live scene from the event below.)

The symbolism of the roses was multi-faceted, especially in light of the murder of 25 trans people of color in 2016. Working on the theme, “Our Roses, While We Are Alive,” advocates handed out roses to encourage participants to become allies in the fight for “quality education, affirming and accessible healthcare, safe and stable housing, and sustainable employment,” as the event announcement read.

“In New Orleans, Louisiana and all across the country, trans and gender non-conforming youth of color continue to disproportionately represent youth affected by homelessness, unemployment, and the criminal justice system,” organizers said on their Facebook page. “While New Orleans and other parts of the country face an affordability crisis for housing across the city and neighborhoods continue to become gentrified and stripped of their culture, trans and gender non-conforming youth of color continue to struggle to find spaces to call our own.

[Learn more: Read about the event as covered by the New Orleans Advocate]

“We recognize that safety means accessing the spaces we need to survive, free from criminalization, incarceration, transphobia, homophobia, racism, heteropatriarchy, and the many layers of oppression we face in the world,” the statement continued. “In these conditions, it is a political act to take space and be seen. It is a political act to say:
We deserve jobs!
We deserve housing!
We deserve education!
We deserve to self-determine our gender!
We deserve to uplift our “trancestors”!
We deserve space to come together and to heal from centuries of trauma.
We deserve space to create, to laugh, to be!
That is why this year, on the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) youth of color in New Orleans are calling on those aligned with our values all across the country to demand the space that we deserve.”

A sub-group of about 20 advocates and allies broke off from the event to march into the French Quarter and set up at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann streets to demand a safe space.

BreakOUT! builds the power of LGBTQ youth most impacted by the criminal justice system to affect concrete policy change to fight the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans.

[Learn more: Check out this profile of BreakOUT! in the New Orleans Advocate]

Come back later as more videos are added to the story.