Art Market

A Washington, D.C., cultural commission abandoned changes to its funding initiative amid allegations of censorship.

Alex Wexelman
Nov 9, 2018 5:56PM, via Washington Post

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) recently added an amendment to its public funding initiative, alerting artists who had already signed contracts via email that it prohibits “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, and/or excessively violent” works. After artists portested and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began investigating the possibility of filing a lawsuit against DCCAH on the grounds that the measure violated First Amendment rights, DCCAH repealed the controversial stipulation Thursday evening.

In a statement quoted by the Washington Post, the organization wrote:

The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities believes deeply in the right to freedom of expression and would never seek to violate that right by censoring the work of any grantee. Mayor [Muriel] Bowser’s steadfast commitment to our diverse and vibrant Arts and Humanities community will not waver. We look forward to a continued investment and collaboration with our District creative community.

As Hyperallergic points out, the swift action on repealing the amended contract happened in large part due to pressure put on DCCAH by D.C. groups such as the Washington Project of the Arts. International Arts & Artists brought the story to the media’s attention while online arts criticism platform DIRT spoke out about the censorship controversy on social media.

Alex Wexelman