Read

Search form

Occupy Museums Calls on Deans Nationwide to Support DebtFair For Students

Occupy Museums Calls on Deans Nationwide to Support DebtFair For Students
Fri, 7/12/2013 - by Occupy Museums

As Congress again fails to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates to 6.8% (nine times the 0.75% rate paid by big banks), Occupy Museums, a group of artists and activists from the Occupy movement, are calling on deans of U.S. art schools to be transparent with their students about the risks of student loans. In an open letter published this week and sent via email and post nationwide, the group asks deans to:

“Begin a process of transparency in your art institution: educate your students about the realities of debt, and disclose the relationships between your board members and predatory lenders.”

In the letter, Occupy Museums invites deans to support a new art market mutual aid model called DebtFair, which aims to bail their students out of debt.

“DebtFair is a series of experimental market-actions that highlight the corrosion of culture through the economic trap of debt,” says organizer and Occupy Museums member Imani Brown. “We are calling on all elements of the art world to recognize the toxicity of our generation’s ballooning debt to our future prospects, as people and as artists. DebtFair is about building solutions together in the face of our government’s failures.”

DebtFair proposes a novel way of viewing and exchanging art, juxtaposing the artists’ economic realities alongside images of their work. On DebtFair’s website, visitors access art images by first reading and clicking on an artist’s debt confessional. “We are looking into the connections between visual culture and debt,” says organizer Tal Beery, “and the website is a growing interactive database of these connections.” DebtFair also plans to host a bailout market where artists will exchange artwork for checks made out to their lending banks.

“The top of the art market is booming, but culture is a fragile ecosystem and the roots are rotting,” adds organizer Noah Fischer. “We know the current model is unsustainable and we need art schools and artists alike to put their influence and resources behind projects that aim for alternatives.”

“DebtFair is acting as a whistleblower in relation to the student debt crisis,” concludes Meredith Degyansky. “At its core, it’s about building a solidarity network in the arts.”

The New York-based group is planning an artists meet-up on August 11 at Abrons Art Center for artists and art lovers to connect around shared economic realities and help develop this new model. More information can be found on www.debtfair.org.

 

Open Letter to the Deans of Art Programs on the Occasion of the “Fix” of Student Loan Interest Rates

Dear Dean ______,

The educational product you currently offer is misleading, and it’s having a toxic effect on our culture in the form of debt.

Your university’s degrees feed on artists' aspirations and promise a return of professional advancements such as high-end sales, prestigious galleries and academic careers. Yet these opportunities rest in increasingly fewer hands, and the mechanisms of privilege are ignored. The 99% of us either balk at the financial risk of pursuing higher art education, or will spend our entire lives struggling to pay off our loans. We are forced to push our art practice aside to work long hours at unsatisfying jobs that enable us to keep pace with climbing interest payments. This system resembles indentured servitude where the few capitalize on the labor of the many. But models do exist where the value of culture is shared.

Occupy Museums has launched DebtFair, a series of experimental market-actions to address the debt crisis in the arts. DebtFair encourages solidarity rather than competition among artists. It asks participating artists to be transparent about their debt and economic reality, and asks collectors to help sustain culture rather than use it as a tool for speculation. We need models like DebtFair to heal the untenable situation caused by your institutions.

Why are we, as cultural producers, encouraged to contribute to a luxury market for the few at the expense of the many? How could our nation spend more money per year on prisons than on education? What kind of culture are we building for the future?

These are not abstract questions. Tomorrow, Congress will attempt a “fix” to prevent a doubling of student loan interest rates. While students are praying that their rates remain at 3.4%, big banks continue to borrow from our government at 0.75%. The toxic equation of a doubling of interest rates will allow them to steal $37 billion annually from students. But even if the doubling is prevented, the status quo is a crisis for artists and for art education.

We are reaching out to you as a potential ally. You, as [TITLE] of [SCHOOL] are inseparable from this crisis and can be instrumental to its resolution. Ignoring this problem is no longer an option. We invite you to support realistic alternatives. We are calling on you to:

  1. Begin a process of transparency in your art institution: educate your students about the realities of debt, and disclose the relationships between your board members and predatory lenders.

  2. Encourage your president and board to freeze tuition rates.

  3. Lend your support to DebtFair (www.debtfair.org) which aims to bail your students out of debt and attend the meetup and discussion at Abrons Art Center in New York in early August. You will be receiving an additional invitation about this event. Your presence will help to initiate a mutual aid movement to bail artists out of debt.

Enough is enough. We need a cultural bailout in the face of a student debt crisis.

Sincerely,

Occupy Museums

 

 
 
 
 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

carbon emissions, Pakistan coal plants, Pakistan coal generation, Pakistan energy policy

On its projected track, Pakistan will generate a total capacity of over 23,000 megawatts of electricity from coal in the next few years to overcome its steep energy requirements.

student loans, student debt, college debt, Student Loan Asset Backed Securities, subprime mortgage securities, collateralized debt, Federal Family Education Loan Program, Student Income Loans, Student Income Loans

A crucial difference between the subprime debt bubble and the student debt bubble is that the properties that comprised subprime mortgage securities served as collateral to the mortgage debt.

DiEM25, austerity policies, Brexit, Lexit, Democracy in Europe Movement, Grexit

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis responds to his critics and lays out DiEM25’s plan for resisting within the European Union.

Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, anti-corruption movement, populist politics, Euro-skeptic party, Italian political corruption, Silvio Berlusconi, Virginia Raggi, Chiara Appendino

The transparency and political openness that helped the 5 Star Movement rise to power must now bring the party's current and future proposals to the forefront if it hopes to achieve any lasting change.

Occupy Wall Street, rising inequality, park occupations, financialization, debt, David Graeber, Occupy legacy, social protests, economic justice, Jeremy Corbyn

Five years after Occupy, organizer and anthropologist David Graeber speaks to ROAR about the power of finance, the history of inequality and the legacy of the movement.

Wells Fargo crimes, Wells Fargo accounts scam, Wells Fargo foreclosures, mortgage-backed securities, subprime loans, Wall Street crimes, John Stumpf

Despite all of the fines paid to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Wells Fargo continues to deny any allegations of wrongdoing. Now a former employee is disputing that claim.

Posted 5 days 11 hours ago
occupy, activism, creative activism, alt-right, white supremacy, neo-nazi, bigotry, racism, sexism, white nationalism, white genocide, Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Bertrand Spencer, Gabriella Coleman, hacktivism, Anonymous, hacker, whistleblower, digital ac

We're introducing a new segment for all those times you think to yourself, "Wow, that's fucked up." First topic: white supremacists.

Posted 4 days 17 hours ago
blockchain currencies, blockchain technologies, crypto currencies, Bitcoin, Federal Reserve, Bank of England, fractional reserve lending, Central Bank Digital Currency, bank bailouts, bail-ins

Central Bank Digital Currencies could supplant the money now created by private banks.

Posted 6 days 12 hours ago
carbon emissions, Pakistan coal plants, Pakistan coal generation, Pakistan energy policy

On its projected track, Pakistan will generate a total capacity of over 23,000 megawatts of electricity from coal in the next few years to overcome its steep energy requirements.

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago
student loans, student debt, college debt, Student Loan Asset Backed Securities, subprime mortgage securities, collateralized debt, Federal Family Education Loan Program, Student Income Loans, Student Income Loans

A crucial difference between the subprime debt bubble and the student debt bubble is that the properties that comprised subprime mortgage securities served as collateral to the mortgage debt.

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago
Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, anti-corruption movement, populist politics, Euro-skeptic party, Italian political corruption, Silvio Berlusconi, Virginia Raggi, Chiara Appendino

The transparency and political openness that helped the 5 Star Movement rise to power must now bring the party's current and future proposals to the forefront if it hopes to achieve any lasting change.

student loans, student debt, college debt, Student Loan Asset Backed Securities, subprime mortgage securities, collateralized debt, Federal Family Education Loan Program, Student Income Loans, Student Income Loans

A crucial difference between the subprime debt bubble and the student debt bubble is that the properties that comprised subprime mortgage securities served as collateral to the mortgage debt.

occupy, activism, creative activism, alt-right, white supremacy, neo-nazi, bigotry, racism, sexism, white nationalism, white genocide, Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Bertrand Spencer, Gabriella Coleman, hacktivism, Anonymous, hacker, whistleblower, digital ac

We're introducing a new segment for all those times you think to yourself, "Wow, that's fucked up." First topic: white supremacists.

Mylan, EpiPen, pharmaceutical industry, Big Pharma, National Institutes of Health, Daraprim, Martin Shkreli, pharmaceutical greed, pharmaceutical lobbying

“Somewhere, right now, a cash-strapped parent or budget-limited patient will skip acquiring an EpiPen. And someday they will need it in a life-threatening situation, and they won’t have it, and they will die.”

AFL-CIO, union organizing, Keystone XL pipeline, jobs versus environment, Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, Communications Workers of America, National Nurses United

In sharp contrast to Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO, some unions really want to restrain climate change and are now vocally opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.