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ArtCenter College of Design Secures $25,000 NEA Grant

Published on Friday, April 30, 2021 | 9:41 am
ArtCenter College of Design students at work on a state-of-the-art soundstage at the school’s campus in Pasadena in an undated photo provided by the institution.

Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support ethical practices for artists and designers, the institution announced Thursday.

The funds will be used to support the “SAFE & SOUND ARTS: Raising National Awareness of Ethical Interactions in Art and Design,” project, which is meant to “develop and share introductory ethical considerations and frameworks for artists and designers engaging with people in their creative work,” ArtCenter said in a written statement.

The project is a collaboration between ArtCenter and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. It focuses primarily on visual arts and design.

ArtCenter President and AICAD Board of Directors Chair Lorne M. Buchman said he appreciated the governmental support.

“We’re honored to receive this support from the NEA for a project addressing an issue that has serious implications for artists and designers across the nation who interact with people for their work,” he said. “Creating knowledge about ethics — and establishing standards of practice — is vital as we shape the future of a profession that impacts most everything we do in our day-to-day lives.”

The project is meant to help encourage and inform artists and designers to incorporate ethical considerations into their work, according to the statement.

“In an era of heightened concern about protections from abuse and invasions of privacy, and when any interaction — good or bad — may go viral online, artists and designers need basic best practices to guide their work,” the ArtCenter statement said. “Consider a photographer who takes pictures of minors without their parents’ consent, or the curator or filmmaker who learns of a person’s medical or legal issues during an emotional interview, or the designer whose prototype for a wearable device unexpectedly poses a physical danger.”

A series of webinars generated through the project will be made available to the public, representatives said.

The topics covered will be wide-ranging, according to ArtCenter Associate Professor and grant author Sean Donahue.

“The project covers everything from how and who a product designer considers when developing the design of an object, to the relationships a photographer develops when documenting a place and people with an image, to the participatory practices makers use to engage with community,” he said.

“Our project will offer students, scholars and professionals important stories of caution and other resources, as well as examples of how design is engaging with ethics in ways that are reflective of this century,” Donahue added.

The ArtCenter project was among 1,073 across the country to receive grants under the NEA’s first round of fiscal year funding in its Grants for Arts Projects Category, ArtCenter officials said.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from ArtCenter College of Design,” Arts Endowment Acting Chair Ann Eilers said. “ArtCenter is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

More information on ArtCenter College of Design is available on the school’s website at

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