Mana Contemporary Plans Protest Against Plan to Defund the NEA


Tala Madani, Spill, 2006.


Following news last month of a Trump administration proposal that would defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mana Contemporary, the cultural center with spaces in Chicago and Jersey City, New Jersey, is planning a protest. A series of performances, exhibition openings, and events are being planned for Mana’s Jersey City and Chicago spaces on Sunday, April 30. At the events, Mana will encourage attendees to sign a petition arguing that the Trump administration’s budget proposal is “dangerous,” and that “arts and cultural industries are a prosperous source for job creation.”

Mana has already begun circulating the petition on its website. The Ayn Foundation, the Brooklyn Rail, Clocktower Productions, the International Center of Photography, the National Academy Museum, Performa, and the Walter De Maria Archives are among those to already cosign the petition, as well as collector Heiner Friedrich.

“I’m really worried if we eliminate the NEA, it will have a bad effect on our community,” Eugene Lemay, the president of Mana Contemporary, told ARTnews. “It’s not just New York and the major cities in America. Every child in every city has access in the arts. Forty percent of [the NEA’s] work is in rural America. People don’t usually know that.”

Mana is also preparing another NEA-related event for June. Though programming hasn’t been planned yet, the petition can also be signed there. Lemay called the June event another “day of awareness.”

“It’s really important to think about the big picture of the NEA in society,” Lemay said. “Whether we receive a grant or not is not important. How it affects our community, our neighborhood, our society—I hope that’s what people take away from the event.”

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