Advocacy

Council for Museum Anthropology Statement on Funding for Cultural Heritage

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposes to eliminate three significant independent agencies that provide crucial funding for research, programming, and exhibition of the arts and humanities — the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The Council for Museum Anthropology strongly opposes this short-sighted proposal. We remind the White House that these agencies play a vital and unique role in supporting state, local, community, and grassroots organizations that enrich our appreciation of the arts and humanities, grow our understanding of our nation’s diverse history, and preserve our nation’s historical collections. They also have huge impacts among small communities and tribal museums, archives, and libraries that we as museum anthropologists work with closely.

Among the agencies threatened, the NEH funds humanities councils in every state and U.S. territory which sponsor family literacy programs, speakers’ bureaus, cultural heritage tourism, exhibitions, and live performances. NEH also provides more than 2,000 grants to smaller institutions for assistance in preserving historical collections and, through a unique interagency funding partnership with the National Science Foundation, supports projects to develop and advance knowledge toward endangered language revitalization in Native American and other communities. In this area, relatively small amounts of money carry huge weight and impact for communities. IMLS funds many community-based programs for museums and cultural heritage sites, without which it would be more difficult for many people to gain access to the internet, continue their education, learn critical research skills, and find employment. From 2002 to 2011, the IMLS Grants to States program alone supplied $980 million to support increased access to digital information, including $67 million toward the digitization of local history and special collections. NEA supports many small organizations and communities that rely on this funding to survive. For instance, 65% of NEA grants go to small and medium sized organizations, which tend to support projects that benefit audiences that otherwise might not have access to arts programming, 40% of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods, and more than half of NEA-funded art events take place in locations where the median household income is less than $50,000.

Museums reach a large, diverse public audience. They make research, science, humanities, art, and history accessible to millions of school children and adults each year. According to a study published in Education Next, an education journal at Stanford University, students who attend a field trip to an art museum experience an increase in critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance. For students from rural or high-poverty regions, the increase was even more significant.

When museums flourish, so do our communities. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) released a new study, Museums as Economic Engines (2017), that shows that for every $100 of economic activity created by museums, an additional $220 is created in other sectors of the US economy; museums contribute approximately $50 billion to the US economy each year, a number that’s more than twice previous estimates. Moreover, museums are a key component of the $171 billion cultural tourism industry; research shows that museum visitors spend more and stay longer than other tourists, boosting our local eateries, hotels, and other businesses.

The CMA stands with AAM in its opposition to the 2019 budget, and “remains committed to helping ensure that all legislators understand the profound economic, educational, and community benefits that museums bring their constituents with the help of these vital federal investments.”

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 22, 2018

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at marshd@si.edu

Council for Museum Anthropology Statement on Cultural Heritage and the New Presidential Administration

Museums are spaces where peoples of different backgrounds, cultures, and faiths join together to promote dialogue and understanding. Museum anthropology is dedicated to the work of anthropology — of human understanding across cultural differences — in museums and related institutions. The Council for Museum Anthropology Board affirms our sustained commitment to human diversity and academic freedom. We pledge to advocate on behalf of threatened community members and against discrimination. We aim to use our work in museums and cultural heritage to promote cross-cultural understanding and positive change.

Thus dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage across global cultures, we urge the administration to protect museums and heritage sites by ensuring federal support, as well as the essential exchanges of ideas, exhibitions, and objects that allow us to do our work.

In solidarity with the National Arts and Cultural Organization Presidential Transition Statement, we urge the U.S. government to ensure the following for museums, cultural heritage, the arts and other cultural resources:

EQUITABLE ACCESS through federal programs, and the support of grant-making agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE by promoting arts and culture in diplomacy, and ensuring access to such exchanges through common sense immigration and visa policies.

COORDINATED APPROACH TO INTEGRATED ARTS POLICIES by urging the new Administration to utilize the expertise of the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to develop new federal policies for the arts and culture that will support our nation’s broader economic, domestic, and diplomatic strategies.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at marshd@si.edu

Council for Museum Anthropology Calls for Immediate Reversal of Executive Order Banning Immigrants

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands with the American Anthropological Association in calling for the immediate retraction of the U.S. Executive Order that blocks immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Museum anthropology is dedicated to understanding cultural differences through research, exhibitions, cultural performances and other public events in museums and related institutions, and to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. Museums are public spaces where individuals representing diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religions come together to promote dialogue. We contend that this executive order violates the human rights of refugees and immigrants and impedes the public exchange of ideas and recognition of diverse perspectives that represent the core mission of museums and other cultural heritage institutions and which are essential to any democratic nation.

Museums and cultural heritage sites are uniquely positioned to tell the story of the United States. Fundamental to this story are the histories of Indigenous peoples whose homelands cross modern borders, enslaved peoples who were brought to America against their will, and immigrants from all faiths and nations that contribute to the complex histories of settlement of this country. America embodies diverse heritages which tell the history of globalization and demonstrate American connections to cultures across the world. This executive order jeopardizes the well being and lives of thousands of people, is counter to the history and spirit of this country, impoverishes cultural understandings, and threatens cultural institutions’ foundational principles of diversity and inclusion.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at marshd@si.edu 

 

Council for Museum Anthropology Stands with Tribal Nations Opposing Dakota Access Pipeline

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands with the American Anthropological Association and in solidarity with the sovereign Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation), the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the American Indian Studies Association, and the many tribal nations in strongly opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The construction of the oil pipeline violates any trust between the United States Government and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The proposed pipeline route crosses the sacred ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Missouri River – a major source of water for the Tribe.

The conduct of the US government in its approval of the Pipeline proposal also breaches the terms of the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties between the Oceti Sakowin and the United States. The pipeline further violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as the collective human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its people.

Furthermore, Article 19 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples maintains that “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” Yet, in violation of both human rights and US government policy, the US Army Corps of Engineers granted environmental clearances and construction permits without consulting the Standing Rock tribal government in a meaningful way.

The Council for Museum Anthropology believes in the protection of cultural heritage, defined broadly. This includes the historic lands and cultural spaces of Indigenous peoples. As museum and heritage professionals, we have a responsibility to be allies and advocates for the protection of ancestral lands and histories for future generations. We call for the respect of the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its peoples, and the immediate halt of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at marshd@si.edu