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Website Protests Defunding of NEA by Faxing Artworks to Congress

The Los Angeles–based design firm Use All Five is employing fax machines to save the National Endowment of the Arts. Cofounders Levi Brooks and Jason Farrell recently created a new service that helps Americans fight for federal funding for culture by faxing their representatives images of artworks.

After Artifax went live on Wednesday, March 29, more than two hundred faxes were sent in the first twenty-four hours. “We launched the project for a variety of reasons,” Brooks told Lauren Cavalli of artforum.com. “We work with clients—spanning from the technology to the arts space. Furthermore, we’re good friends with a lot of artists, and have seen the good of the NEA in a number of areas.”

In addition to believing that the agency is a vital resource for communities across the country, especially for rural areas that don’t have as much exposure to cultural programming, Brooks said the initiative is also a solution to the clogged phone lines and busy signals people are likely to face when trying to call their congressperson. According to the New Yorker, desperate constituents have gotten more creative as representatives have become harder to reach—thwarted individuals have even resorted to having their political views delivered to the Senate through local pizza joints.

“The fax is a forgotten method, but it’s still in the offices of our representatives in Washington and used quite often,” Brooks noted. “Being able to see the artwork, feel the paper, and smell the toner—it has an impact.”

There are currently eighteen artworks by local artists such as Leesh Adamerovich, Erik Benjamins, Conner Calhoun, Rachel Mendelsohn, Evan McGraw, and Rachel Eulena Williams featured on the site. Brooks confirmed that he has asked “bigger” artists to design works for the project but doesn’t want to say any names yet. Depending on the quality of the submissions, ten to twenty new works may be added each week.

The self-funded project will continue until April 28, the day that funding for federal agencies is set to expire. House and Senate appropriations committees will have to reach an agreement on a spending package by then in order to prevent a government shutdown.

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