Correction: A previous version of this article misquoted John DeKemper as saying "prospective students in the middle of March" rather than "prospective students and the world at large." The article has been updated to reflect the change, and The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
On Monday afternoon, dozens of Tar Heels marched from the Hanes Art Center to the steps of the South Building amid chants of, “Arts buildings in disrepair, does UNC even care?” In what they called the Carol Folt Revolt, protesters aimed to draw attention to the lack of funding for the UNC Department of Art.
“A lot of people in the art department were seeing the University and the chancellor’s office put out ‘initiatives’ that appeared to promote ‘art’ on campus, but in reality the University has been neglecting the art department,” said Annie Simpson, studio art major and Carol Folt Revolt organizer.
Organizers publicized 16 demands including more faculty, more classes to satisfy major and minor requirements, employment benefits for part-time staff and fixing the roof of the Hanes Art Center. Books and other materials in the Sloane Art Library have been damaged because of the leaking roof and are currently covered in plastic to protect them from further water damage.
“As an Art History Ph.D. student, I am deeply tied to our department and its reputation," said Miranda Elston. "It has been extremely difficult to watch our department lose faculty and funding, for our buildings to be falling down around us and to constantly have to defend our discipline itself when we contribute so much to this vibrant campus."
Many protestors took issue with the recent Arts Everywhere campaign, which they believe does not reflect the University administration’s actual opinion on the value of art.
“We also protest how the Arts Everywhere campaign is used as a marketing tool for the Campaign for Carolina,” organizers wrote on the event’s Facebook page.
Campaign for Carolina, a $4.25 billion fundraising campaign launched in October, aims to raise $350 million in donations to Arts Everywhere, to increase art visibility on campus and improve the Ackland Art Museum and Playmakers' Repertory Company.
Chancellor Carol Folt did not meet the protesters outside the South Building, but organizers gave their list of demands to a dean who said he would deliver it to her.
“I do think it was successful," said political science and studio art major and event organizer Maryclaire Farrington. "We had a large group of people from different backgrounds and experiences voicing their frustration in different ways, but it was incredible to see the group get together, and I hope that the administration takes the necessary steps to improve the program and give the proper investment to arts students here."
Protesters hope the rally will encourage the University’s administration to address faculty loss, health and safety, low graduate student pay, the leaking roof and the plan for spending money raised through the Campaign for Carolina.
“This is not about feelings. It is about the spotlight on Arts Everywhere, a hollow platitude that gives the school a façade of interest in the arts with zero actual commitment to this department," said studio art graduate student John DeKemper. "This demonstrates that they know prospective students and the world at large understand the importance of art in academia, yet they themselves don’t understand it. They value only the appearance of caring about art.”
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