Magdalene Horzempa writes for the Martin Center about one of former UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt’s less publicized initiatives.
On the surface, Arts Everywhere makes “the arts a fundamental part of the University culture and daily campus life.” But in reality, Arts Everywhere is another way for the institution to subtly virtue-signal its “progressive values” while diverting attention from real issues. Increasing students’ exposure to and appreciation of the fine arts is incidental at best. The cost is also noteworthy; according to public records obtained by the Martin Center, the Arts Everywhere 2017 budget was just shy of $500,000. For 2018, UNC estimates it will increase to $547,000.
Indeed, Arts Everywhere partially is used to further progressive politicization inside and outside the university’s classrooms. In April 2017, for example, a quilt was created in partnership with the Campus Y—a hub for social justice activism—mainly depicting left-leaning values. One square reads “Let justice roll down like waters,” while others communicate support for liberal feminism and the need for a “revolution.” All those squares are in line with “artivism,” or using art as activism and boosting “solidarity” among a group of people. And in a social media post, Arts Everywhere approved of using the arts as a “political force.”
And in October 2018, Arts Everywhere partnered with Mi Pueblo UNC to plan a series of events where UNC students could celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. On the schedule of events was a speaking event entitled “Art in Conversation: Art as Protest & Identity in Changing Times with Dr. Eduardo Douglas.” Protest art, another form of “artivism,” is a way for artists to get involved in politics—often to promote left-leaning values. The event appears to be less about educating students than exposing them to a new method of social justice tactics.
But creeping politicization isn’t the only issue. Some university art students argue that Arts Everywhere doesn’t address the real problems the arts face on campus, such as building maintenance. Students cited leaking roofs in the Sloane Art Library as where Arts Everywhere funds could have made a difference.