Statement of the Americans for the Arts Board of Directors on the Commencement of Independent Reviews and Interim Leadership Changes

“Over the last weeks it has become evident that despite our best efforts, we have not met our goals to lead, serve, and advance the diverse networks of entities and individuals who cultivate the arts in America. We have listened to the voices within the arts community calling for institutional equity and racial justice within our organization and the wider industry, as well as a greater commitment to the artists and arts organizations in need of support.
“The AFTA Board of Directors takes the charges made by these members of our community very seriously, and we have taken swift action for remedy to closely examine the organization’s practices and procedures, in particular those related to the workforce/workplace environment and diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, the Board has unanimously approved the following resolutions effective immediately.
“Proskauer Rose LLP will independently investigate matters that have recently come to the Board’s attention regarding the work environment at AFTA. Separately, The Hewlin Group will conduct an independent investigatory consultant review for workforce/workplace policy and procedures including, but not limited to, progress regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion at AFTA. In addition, the Board’s Cultural Equity Committee, under Chair Abel López, is forming a Cultural Equity Task Force, to launch this month, that will address perceived gaps and deficiencies in communication, accountability, and measurement of our program work related to field operations, particularly around Cultural Equity.
“In addition, the Board has been informed by our President and CEO, Robert L. Lynch, that he will take a voluntary leave of absence, effective immediately. It is Bob’s strong belief – one that is regrettably shared by the Board – that the most appropriate course of action now is to allow the investigations to proceed without distraction and in the best interests of the mission of the organization and the field. Bob will remain on paid administrative leave while the pending outside investigations are underway.

“During this investigative period, Brigadier General Nolen Bivens (U.S. Army Ret.) has agreed to lead AFTA as Interim President and CEO at the request of the Board. General Bivens has a distinguished career as a thought leader and strategist through decades of military service. He was instrumental in the founding of the National Initiative for Arts & Health Across the Military, working with state and local arts agencies, providing access to creative arts therapies at military clinical sites across the country. He has consulted on major federal agency contracts under the administration of Americans for the Arts including the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Project with the National Endowment for the Arts, and the State Military and Veterans Arts and Humanities Initiative, a collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Lieutenant Governors Association. General Bivens is currently a Board Emeritus, and a past Board member of AFTA.

“As AFTA confronts the serious work ahead of us to continue to transform our organization and be known as a trusted leader reflective of the individuals and communities that we serve, we are grateful and fortunate to have General Bivens stepping into this interim role. General Bivens will offer his invaluable skills to the organization, its valued staff, and to the field at a critical time for the long-term viability of the creative community.”


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