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CAA Advocacy Policy

Adopted by the Board of Directors – October 27, 2019

Purpose and Scope

This Advocacy Policy sets forth 1) guidelines for CAA’s involvement in advocacy, whether at the local, state, federal or international levels; and 2) the procedures for determining how, when, and to what extent CAA should become so involved. CAA’s goal is to serve its members by providing them with access to resources, information, and support regarding issues of concern to them, raising their awareness and motivating them to take action. Issues of concern are considered in relation to the Association’s mission, vision, and values statements. The Association defines inclusion as a collaborative work-in-progress and encourages all CAA constituents to embrace and adopt the ongoing practice of inclusion while advancing art and design, as set forth in the Association’s “Values Statement on Diversity and Inclusion.”

Issues

CAA recognizes that its members have a diverse set of interests, philosophies, backgrounds and beliefs. As CAA members, they have in common their commitment to support the visual arts and humanities, to promote professional ethics and standards and to address issues that may arise in their various workplace environments.

Accordingly, CAA’s interests necessarily focus on a particular set of issues in alignment with the Association’s mission, vision and values statements:

  • Government funding for the arts and humanities
  • Freedom of expression and censorship
  • Intellectual property rights, such as copyright
  • Conservation of the artistic integrity of public spaces
  • Higher education, including the promotion and use of technologies such as communications to facilitate distance learning
  • Philanthropy for the arts and humanities
  • Tax policy, as it affects CAA members
  • Public awareness and institutional recognition regarding the value and importance of humanities scholarship and visual arts and design education within the academy and beyond it;
  • Regularly addressing the changing workforce conditions in academic and cultural institutions, including the trajectory of adjunct faculty unionization, faculty salary levels and benefit negotiations with administrators, and the practices of unpaid student internships;
  • Enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives in higher education, including promoting best practices in reduction of systemic barriers, faculty and staff hiring, support and recruitment of first-generation students from diverse and under-represented groups, and implementation of sound consultative processes involving the affected communities.

CAA has been involved with advocacy since its founding and continues with present-day efforts. From time to time, CAA may supplement or modify the issues set forth above to meet broadly supported interests or needs of its members. Any such changes require the approval of the Board of Directors.

CAA Involvement

As resources permit, CAA monitors legislative, regulatory and policy developments, litigation and advocacy efforts relating to the issues set forth above. Advocacy is a process of influencing outcomes and consists of organized actions to address an issue. To be effective, advocacy requires being part of broader longer-term programs with full involvement from the membership, building trust, relationships, and partnerships with stakeholders, influencers, and decision makers. CAA performs advocacy activities that fall into three categories along a wider spectrum: proactive advocacy, passive advocacy, and reactive advocacy.

  1. Proactive advocacy. Proactive advocacy is directed at accomplishing specifically-defined steps that are targeted towards a particular result on an issue. Activities in this category include drafting of evaluative outcomes reports and best practices documents, setting up task forces, and the development of a strategic plan every five years to achieve objectives and set agendas for the future.
  2. Passive advocacy. Passive advocacy refers to activities that bring attention to issues of concern to the membership, but that do not involve taking formal positions. Activities in this category include the publication of the CAA Advocacy Newsletter which re-posts stories on current affairs related to issues of interest to the membership. To ensure that CAA members understand CAA policies and involvement, are committed to CAA objectives and have the information needed to be effective advocates, CAA posts advocacy alerts, advocacy updates and other information for member advocacy activities (such as contacting elected officials) on the CAA website (www.collegeart.org).
  3. Reactive advocacy. Reactive advocacy pertains to issues of concern to our membership that arise which are deemed by the majority of our membership to require an accelerated or formal response by the Association. Some examples might be:
  • A museum decides to take an object out of an exhibition for non-curatorial reasons;  
  • A museum decides to sell works from its collection in contradiction of AAM deaccession rules; 
  • A government policy chooses to defund the NEA or NEH; 
  • A government policy makes it difficult for scholars to travel to the U.S. based on their religion;
  • Marginalized communities believe that their scholarship is being ignored by the establishment organizations.  

On some occasions, CAA may choose to independently take a position; on others, we may be asked to sign onto a statement prepared by another group. CAA may also provide a forum to solicit comments from membership through the CAA Advocacy Newsletters to establish a broader understanding of the environment. Advocacy activities in this category include: lending its name by way of endorsement and support; writing letters; contacting press; meeting with legislators, policymakers or other responsible officials; filing, or joining, amicus briefs; working collaboratively with other organizations; and motivating and coordinating grassroots action by its members.

Process

The nature, timing and degree of CAA involvement will necessarily vary depending on the matter and issue and available resources. CAA generally should refrain from becoming directly involved in any matter where a substantial proportion of CAA members may be opposed to such involvement. 

Consultation with membership and, when applicable, community outreach is encouraged to inform which advocacy action is the most appropriate. Precautions should be taken when advocating for controversial positions such that any position taken is consistent with a clearly expressed majority position within the CAA membership and stakeholders.

In connection with any advocacy matters, individual members of CAA and the Board may not suggest that they are speaking for or on behalf of CAA unless specifically authorized to do so by the President, the Executive Committee or the Board, depending on the nature and urgency of the matter.

A designated CAA staff member (Communications Department) is assigned to monitor the advocacy issues of interest to CAA. This same staff member is responsible for publishing advocacy updates in CAA News, drafting letters and press releases, coordinating grassroots activities and meetings with officials and policymakers, and providing updates on CAA’s activities to the Board of Directors.

This designated staff member, in the first instance, determines which issues of interest to CAA will be re-posted on CAA News, and if applicable, consults with the Executive Director with regard to the urgency of response on an issue that may require reactive advocacy action. If the latter, the Executive Director will consult with designated members of the Board of Directors to ensure the appropriateness of position taken.

An Advocacy Committee, composed of the President, Vice President for External Relations, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and Executive Director, will use the following to assess the evidence on the issue, before developing and implementing an action: 

First, the Advocacy Committee must answer the following questions affirmatively:

  1. Is the Committee convinced that it has a good sense of the facts on the particular issue, and that there are no unknown variables that would merit caution?
  2. If an individual or organization is requesting the Association’s support, is it known to CAA, and is it considered to be reliable entity?
  3. Would the Association taking a position serve the interests of its members?
  4. Does the Association’s proposed advocacy position squarely fit within its core values or past positions?

Then, the Advocacy Committee would have to answer the following questions in the negative:

  1. Has a substantial portion of CAA membership made known their opposition regarding the position the Association is considering taking?
  2. Are there legal considerations that would make it unwise or unlawful for Association to take a position?  In all cases, this question would be addressed in consultation with CAA’s legal counsel, who would have the final say on this issue.

If these questions can be answered to the satisfaction of the Advocacy Committee, and at least two of the three members of the Committee who are also members of the Board are in favor of the Association taking the proposed action, then the Association could do so. 

The Advocacy Committee, in communication with staff will publish an annual summary report for the membership in CAA News, and for distribution at Annual Business Meeting, on the status of advocacy issues the Association has been monitoring and supporting, reporting on results and progress.

Any matters involving litigation, such as CAA statements in support of or in opposition to a litigant, or the filing of any briefs by or on behalf of CAA, must be approved by the CAA Counsel.