Wednesday, April 1, 2015

'Religious freedom' law is also hurting the Indianapolis Museum of Art

THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR
(Letter to the Editors)
Charles Venable, museum director. Courtesy of Artnet News
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is already seeing the fallout from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and it's not good. Several generous art collectors from different parts of the country have contacted us to say how RFRA discourages them from making future donations to the IMA and other Indiana charities. We are receiving countless emails telling us visitors are canceling their planned trips to Indiana and the IMA as a direct result of the RFRA law. [link]

Also, a nationally prominent travel writer has informed the IMA that because Gov. Mike Pence signed what the critic termed a "hateful bill" into law, he does not plan to cover events in Indiana in the foreseeable future. That means that readers of national publications and websites will not hear about the IMA's upcoming "Dream Cars" exhibition, which opens May 3 and runs through the summer. ("And it's really too bad," said the critic, "because the exhibit at the museum sounds pretty cool.")

RFRA is sending a message to the rest of the nation that Indiana is narrow-minded and intolerant. Even if, as RFRA's supporters contend, the law will not have the negative effects that we fear, the fact that it is so easily misinterpreted is a sign that lawmakers made a serious mistake.

The Board of Directors of the IMA calls on the General Assembly and Gov. Pence to amend or repeal RFRA during the current session of the legislature. Leaving the law on the books will hurt Indiana's thriving arts and convention industries — an economic harm that Hoosiers cannot afford.

Charles L. Venable
Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO
Thomas Hiatt
Chairman of the Board