Robert Lynch, one of the prominent names in the American art world and the CEO-President of Americans For The Arts (AFTA) took a paid leave of absence after he was accused of harbouring a hostile work environment in the organization.
The AFTA is an art advocacy group that helps in fundraising for research and offers awards that are highly regarded within the art community. Robert Lynch has led the group for 35 years. He also currently serves in President-elect Joe Biden’s team of art and humanities. Lynch was also rumoured to be under consideration for the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The group is currently chaired by Mary Anne Carter and Lynch had refuted the rumours. The Biden-Harris team has so far refused to comment on Lynch’s action.
In recent months, many former AFTA employees had publicly spoken about the hostile work environment fostered by Lynch and his colleagues. In November, Quincy Floyd (a member of AFTA’s Art Education Advisory Council) published an op-ed that talked about many of these accusations. The article said that while AFTA had shown support for Black and Brown lives after the George Floyd murder, the requests for greater transparency from many of its employees were met with disdain from the leadership. In the same month, a medium blog written by three former AFTA employees further talked about the culture of bullying and harassment against those who dared to speak up about the organization’s actions.
Soon after, AFTA brought independent law firms to both investigate the allegations against Lynch and the overall focused on equality and inclusion in the organization. Currently, a statement o AFTA’s website says that Robert Lynch “will remain on paid administrative leave while the pending outside investigations are underway.”