Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Presidential Arts Committee Resigns En Masse With Open Letter That Low-Key Spells Out 'RESIST'

Before you read more...
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

All remaining members of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse on Friday morning with an announcement that contained an Easter egg of sorts: taken together, the first letter of every paragraph spelled out "RESIST."

The committee, whose members included actor Kal Penn, author Jhumpa Lahiri, artist Chuck Close, and noted L.A. architect Thom Mayne, among others, was appointed by President Obama. Penn told Vanity Fair that the committee originally had twice as many members, but half of them had chosen to resign just before the inauguration. "The rest of us felt that because we were appointed to a committee that does not term out—our terms don’t automatically expire with the changing administration—that our roles are nonpartisan," Penn said.

"It’s one thing to say you want to serve the programs you were appointed to serve, regardless of politics, but after a certain point . . . we just don’t want our names attached to this in any way," he continued.

Support for LAist comes from

Penn also said that the group made the decision to resign en masse over an email chain, along with "a lot of text chains."

This is has not been a great week for presidential advisory committees: on Wednesday, the president was moved to disband his business advisory councils after a number of the executives of the council resigned. On Thursday, Trump abandoned his plans for an advisory council on infrastructure.

"We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” the members of the arts council wrote in the joint letter. They also wrote that ignoring the president's "hateful rhetoric" would have made them "complicit" in his words.