Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and the entire Committee of Presidents of Arts and Humanities have announced their resignation. A letter dated Friday and signed by 16 of the 17 committee members cited “false equivalence,” comments President Donald Trump at the “Join Right” meeting last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump blamed “many parties” for events that left an anti-racism activist dead. The White House said that Trump had already decided not to renew the advisory committee for budgetary reasons.
“Ignoring their hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in their words and actions,” the letter says. “We are better than this, we are better than this, if this is not clear to you, we invite you to resign as well.” The only member whose name did not appear was Broadway director George C. Wolfe. Wolfe’s representatives in the creative arts agency said Friday that he too had resigned and that his name was added to the letter, which seemed to contain a hidden political message beyond the openly stated. The first initials of the six major paragraphs of the letter indicate “r-e-s-i-s-t”.
“Earlier this month, it was decided that President Trump will not renew the Order of the Presidential Committee on Arts and Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year,” the White House said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesman . “While the committee has done a good job in the past, in its current form it is not simply a responsible way to pass US tax.”
The statement stated that the committee “simply redirects funding” from federal cultural organizations reporting directly to the President, Congress and taxpayers. “These cultural organizations do a great job and will continue to participate in these important projects,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, two business advisory councils were dismantled as members of the left in protest. Friday’s exodus accentuated the global arts contender relationship with Trump. The president has struggled to find facilitators, many of whom supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 to perform at her inaugural gala, and the Kennedy Honors Center for Life have already said they do not attend the White House reception in December. As president, Trump also recommended the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Foundation for the Humanities.
The Arts and Humanities Committee was established in 1982 under the direction of President Ronald Reagan and, with the first person as honorary president, working with governmental and private organizations to promote the arts through such programs as Turnaround Arts And Save America’s Treasures. Other people who signed the resignation letter included the award-winning Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri; And Vicki Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. All were named by President Barack Obama.