April 29, 2021

ArtCenter College of Design to Receive $25,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Funds to support ethical practices for artists and designers

ArtCenter College of Design has received a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grants for Arts Projects award to continue to explore research ethics in art and design in collaboration with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

The NEA award to ArtCenter will support "SAFE & SOUND ARTS: Raising National Awareness of Ethical Interactions in Art and Design," a project intended to develop and share introductory ethical considerations and frameworks for artists and designers engaging with people in their creative work. Focused primarily on design and the visual arts, the project is a collaborative effort between ArtCenter and AICAD, a membership organization of the leading specialized arts and design colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.

“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,” said Lorne M. Buchman, president of ArtCenter College of Design and chair of the AICAD Board of Directors. “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.”

“This valuable work is an ideal collaboration that will benefit all of our member institutions providing critical support not only for faculty and students, but also for those in the creative professions where our alumni innovate and lead,” said Deborah Obalil, AICAD president and executive director.

The project will offer academic and professional communities information to help consider ethical choices in art and design practice. 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. 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.

The "SAFE & SOUND ARTS” project will feature a virtual convening of thought leaders in the field to identify leading practices and develop a series of short, accessible "ethical art and design practices with people 101" webinars made available as a free public resource. The project will also result in a sharable supplement to the webinars that spotlights subject areas for further development.

“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,” said Sean Donahue, Associate Professor, Graduate Media Design Practices at ArtCenter, author of the NEA grant and a specialist in design research and socially driven design. “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.”

Students, faculty and professionals throughout the field of art and design will benefit from the "SAFE & SOUND ARTS” project since it is focused on creating a resource to be used both in the classroom and in industry.

“This is part of a larger effort in the field to increase understanding of research-based practice and ethics in art and design as well as projects related to human subjects research,” said Jane McFadden, professor and chair of ArtCenter’s Humanities & Sciences department which will lead implementation of the project. “Developing transparent and informed practices for engagement with people is essential for an interaction with the world with equity and justice.”

ArtCenter and AICAD’s “SAFE & SOUND ARTS” is among 1,073 projects across America totaling nearly $25 million that were selected during the first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.

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

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

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The Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design is a non-profit consortium of the leading specialized arts and design colleges and universities in the US and Canada. Founded in 1991, the mission is to help strengthen the member colleges individually and collectively, and to inform the public about these colleges and universities and the value of studying the arts and design.

AICAD institutions educate more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, plus many thousands more in summer and continuing education programs. Our students are drawn from all 50 US states and more than 60 countries. Over 70% of these students receive financial aid to support their education.

About ArtCenter College of Design

Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of art and design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the general public through a highly regarded series of year-round extension programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

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Teri Bond 

Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design 

626 396-2385

ArtCenter film students on set shooting a project with a large screen close up of a young woman
ArtCenter College of Design received a $25,000 NEA Grant for a collaboration with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) that will offer academic and professional communities information to help consider ethical choices in art and design practice. ArtCenter students at work on a state-of-the-art soundstage on the Pasadena campus. © ArtCenter College of Design