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As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, cultural workers are experiencing mass layoffs, and it is clear the art world will never look the same. In the first hour of this emergency forum, speakers will present ten-minute reports from the field; the second hour will feature breakout Q&A sessions with the speakers as well as a labor lawyer and a children’s therapist.
Art • Work • Place was originally planned as a two-day summit on efforts to create a just and equitable workplace in the art world—union organizing at museums, protests against toxic philanthropy, challenges to institutional racism, and lawsuits against sexual harassment and gender discrimination. But the current health emergency has drastically changed our conversations and needs. This online forum will instead focus on the immediate moment, sharing concrete information and ideas: What is happening to workers at art institutions across the country? What coalition groups have been formed for solidarity and support? What are our strategies going forward?
Ian Epps (Art Handlers Alliance) will explain what is occurring at the city, state, and federal levels to support precarious workers, and what actions we can take.
Michelle Millar Fisher (Art + Museum Transparency) will describe the layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts taking place at museums and galleries, and the consequences for unionization.
Camilo Godoy (artist/educator) will outline the specific challenges confronting freelance museum educators.
Landry Haarmann (Met Council on Housing) will discuss strategies for rent strikes.
Shaun Leonardo (artist) will talk about his work with young people caught up in the justice system and New York State’s recent rollback of bail reform.
Andres Puerta (International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30) will address cross-organizing and solidarity with striking workers.
Kate Zayko, LCSW, will answer questions about the new struggles parents and children are now facing.
The forum will be chaired by Nikki Columbus.
The organizers are reallocating the budget for the planned summit and speakers are forgoing their usual honorarium so that funding can be directed to aid groups and individuals in need. For more information and to apply, please click here.
Organized by the PhD Program in Art History (CUNY Graduate Center), in collaboration with the James Gallery/Center for the Humanities (CUNY Graduate Center) and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics (The New School), where it is sponsored in part by the Helen Shapiro Lectureship.