President’s Message

The War Against the Arts Begins

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“GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.”

– Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I write this message on my own, without prior consent from the Gamma Xi Phi Board of Trustees.  It is an editorial which does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or policies of GXP at this moment.

This week, President Donald J. Trump proposed a national budget which proposes elimination of funding for:

  • The National Endowment for the Arts
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities
  • The Institute of Library and Museum Services, and
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Total funding for these vital programs comes in at well under a billion dollars and .02 percent of the overall federal budget.

Some of you may think that the NEA, for example, only serves the artistic elite in Hollywood or major urban areas on the east coast.  Well, that’s not true.  In 2016, the NEA awarded 2,400 grants across every congressional district across America. That money wasn’t earmarked just for large arts groups–over half went to small and medium sized artistic organizations.

Friend, I am worried.  Not for the District of Columbia or New York or Chicago.  I am worried for Omaha, Nebraska.  For Tulsa, Oklahoma.  For Southampton County, Virginia. For Flint, Michigan.  For small towns across America with a single museum.  For those towns who have an emerging cultural awareness.

What’s going to happen to them?  How will they continue to document their stories, to build artistic economies, and to preserve their culture?

I want for you to join the call for Congress to save the arts–not just the NEA, but all four programs which are being threatened.  Call your Congressional representatives today.  Yes, that includes the introverts in the room.  I hate making phone calls, but these calls are logged and it does make a difference.

If you’re looking for what to say, visit the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Mobilization Center.

As a member of an arts fraternity, I am deeply troubled by the callousness with which this administration has treated the arts and humanities.  We will have to work together, across artistic disciplines and across party lines in order to ensure that our nation continues to be a global leader.  The war on the arts has begun and we need all available hands to join the fight.


Rashid Darden,
National President of Gamma Xi Phi

Gamma Xi PhiThe War Against the Arts Begins
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Happy Fifth Anniversary, Gamma Xi Phi

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Rashid Darden, National President of Gamma Xi Phi

Rashid Darden, National President of Gamma Xi Phi

In 2110, by the grace of God, someone will call my name as the 3rd National President of a century-old fraternity for artists.  Perhaps there will be some three dimensional portrait of me in a historical exhibit with all the other past National Presidents.  Maybe there will be some bullet points with the major accomplishments of my administration.  If I’m lucky, someone will be there, not who remembers me, but remembers someone who remembers me.

But one thing is certain:  I will not be alive in 2110.  So I’d better do a damn good job at being a National President if I want to be remembered.  I’d better make sure that every Founders’ Day is a milestone for our beloved fraternity.

Today, Gamma Xi Phi is five years old.  Students attending Ramapo College of New Jersey came together five years ago with an idea for a new fraternity, one established for artists of all crafts.  Years later, the fraternity has already grown into something far greater in size and scope than our original members could have expected.  It has experienced this growth because it is fundamentally a good organization that has come at the right time.

I am proud of each and every one of our members, from the charter members of Alpha Chapter to our newest initiates.  Gamma Xi Phi Brothers and Sisters are on the move, sculpting monuments in Washington, performing on tour in Europe and Africa, studying in graduate programs in New York, and hosting popular podcasts in New Jersey.  We have done a lot in five years and we are not stopping any time soon.  Through the years, Gamma will grow in size, in strength, and in influence due to our wonderful members.

But we can’t do it alone.  To our families, friends, and supporters:  If you believe, as we do, that Gamma Xi Phi is a good organization, we ask that you spread this simple message to the artists in your life:

You are not alone.  There is an organization out there for men and women in the arts.  They are waiting for you.  They need you, and while you might not know it now, you need them as well.  They are a group of great folks: literary artists, visual artists, performing artists, and professionals in arts-serving careers.  They have an awesome national program of artistic service that I think you’d like.  Check them out:

Gamma Xi Phi will exist in 2110, certainly without me, but I must do my part to make sure that it is a greater organization than I could have imagined. If you are an artist, join us.  If you are a friend, help us.  These past five years have been a nice start, but we have only just begun to build our legacy.

Happy fifth anniversary to my Brothers and Sisters.  Thank you, one and all.

Rashid Darden,
National President



Gamma Xi PhiHappy Fifth Anniversary, Gamma Xi Phi
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Why a Fraternity?

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Brothers and Sisters, families and friends, visitors to this website:  I welcome you to the next era of service to the arts.

As you see, the new theme of Gamma Xi Phi is Investing in Artists for the Community and the World.  As we developed this theme, we reached out to several organizations to share the importance of collaborating with the fraternity.  One potential partner outright asked me:  “Why a fraternity?  Why not just an association?”

Gamma Xi PhiWhy a Fraternity?
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