Calls for Fund for the Arts Leadership Changes Continue

by Gabe Bullard on March 11, 2011

Arts and arts advocates will gather outside of the Fund for the Arts headquarters Friday for a demonstration.

The protest is meant to encourage the fund’s board to fire CEO Allan Cowen. Cowen threatened the job of the director of the Louisville Visual Art Association in a voicemail last month after the director and others criticized the fund for giving little or no money to visual arts groups.

The board issued a statement last week saying Cowen was reprimanded and will behave more appropriately in the future. Visual Art Association board chair Benton Keith says that’s not enough. He says he’s heard from colleagues who are equally upset.

“People are going to quit giving. They’ve already withdraw their pledges or decided to stop payroll deduction until change in leadership at the fund occurs.”

Keith is attending the demonstration, but he did not organize it. Artist and gallery owner Craig Kaviar did. He recently wrote a letter criticizing the fund’s allocation methods, too. Cowen was not available for comment. Fund officials issued a statement saying they appreciate the protesters’ rights to free speech and they hope people continue to support the fund. They did not respond to Benton’s claims about decreased donations.

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