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NEH in the News

Selected articles on NEH-supported projects.
Posted: March 28, 2017 Maine Voices: Abandoning the arts and humanities would be a giant step backward
Portland Press Herald

The Trump administration’s recently released proposed federal spending plan has crippling implications for America’s arts and humanities communities. Part of the budget proposal would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

If these national entities seem unfamiliar to you, consider a small sample of the projects they’ve funded over the years. These projects include National Public Radio, “A Prairie Home Companion,” PBS, The Sundance Institute and Film Festival; literature, arts, dance, and theater education programs in public schools, and research funding for museums, libraries and colleges.

Posted: March 28, 2017 VIEWPOINT: Prioritize American Art and Soul
Georgetown Hoya

In 1965, the U.S. Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Besides funding arts and humanities projects, the agencies support art education, international cooperative initiatives and research. However, both agencies have regularly faced criticism and threats of demise.

Trump’s current cost-cutting budget proposal would eliminate both agencies, saving $300 million from their combined budgets, which is .024 percent of federal discretionary spending, or approximately 92 cents per citizen.

Comparatively, some of Trump’s lifestyle choices, including twice-monthly trips to Florida and his family’s stay in New York City, will cost $1.42 per citizen by year’s end.

The relative financial burden of supporting the NEA/NEH also pales by international comparisons. Around the world, public investment in the arts far surpasses that of the United States: Germany invests $20 per citizen, England invests $77 per citizen and Australia $269 per citizen.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Trump's cuts to the arts are threatening this Jesuit priest's documentary on Flannery O'Connor
America: The Jesuit Review

As most of us know by now the Trump administration’s proposed budget for 2018 includes plans to abolish the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Though the N.E.H. and the N.E.A. combined budget of $148 million is a mere .003 per cent of the entire federal budget, the rationale to defund the endowment is that tax dollars would be better spent in building up the defense budget, which President Donald J. Trump wants to increase by $54 billion.

This is how the N.E.H. describes its mission: “Because democracy demands wisdom, the N.E.H. serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.” Its mission is not to fund big projects but to provide seed money that will help get the ball rolling or help to finish things up. It does a great deal with very little.

I can personally attest to the importance of the endowments. My colleague, Elizabeth Coffman, and I are recent recipients of a $150,000 grant from the N.E.H. This past summer, we won the award to finish our full-length feature documentary, “Flannery O’Connor: Acts of Redemption.”

Posted: March 28, 2017 Penn faculty release petition criticizing Trump's proposed elimination of the NEH
Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn faculty are taking a strong stance against Trump’s budget.

A recent petition denouncing the possible elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities proposed by the Trump administration's initial fiscal plan has been signed by 191 Penn faculty members.

“Scholars of the humanities, along with scientists and social scientists, at the University of Pennsylvania, vehemently oppose the President’s proposal because we know the tremendous losses to scholarship and to American culture that will occur if Congress agrees to end the NEH,” the statement read.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Ronald Reagan understood ‘the humanities teach us who we are’ — what’s happening today?
Seattle Times

Why should we use tax dollars to support the humanities? President Donald Trump’s proposed budget says we shouldn’t. It eliminates the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), along with other arts and culture agencies.

The president’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, tried to rationalize these cuts by dismissing the arts and humanities as elitist, asking, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?”

What Mulvaney failed to mention is the NEH costs only 62 cents per taxpayer each year. That’s the change you might find between the seat cushions of your car.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Trump wants to cut the NEA and NEH. What have those agencies done for Pa.?

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities has helped paint murals, preserve art, produce television documentaries, host concerts and foster an interest in the racial histories of Pennsylvania cities among other things.

Those independent agencies, however, could be cut should President Trump's proposed budget pass.

The NEA and NEH are both independent agencies that received close to $148 million each in federal funding in 2016, according to numbers on both their websites. At least $3.1 million of funding that year has been distributed to arts and humanities projects throughout Pennsylvania, benefiting agencies such as the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Arts leaders march to State House to seek more funding for culture
Boston Globe

he number of attendees was nearly three times greater than at Arts Matter Advocacy Day in 2015. The increase, organizers say, reflects a new sense of urgency. President Trump recently proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other cultural agencies from the federal budget.

“The president’s proposal is hitting a nerve with a lot of folks, and turning passive arts supporters into arts activists,” Wilson said. “It forces the issue of what is most important to us: Is it investing in the NEA and NEH, or is it building more F-15 bombers?”

That was enough to inspire Concord’s Deborah Disston, a self-professed lobbying greenhorn who directs the McIninch Art Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Humanities professors weigh-in on NEH funding cuts
UT Daily Beacon

Over spring break, while UT students flocked to the beach, Head of the Department of Religious Studies Rosalind Hackett went north to D.C. for a conference of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA).

For two days, Hackett, along with three representatives from Vanderbilt, met with Tennessee congressmen's aids to lobby for the necessity of humanities funding — specifically for the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH).

In President Donald Trump's “America First” budget blueprint released on March 16, the elimination of both the NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts is proposed. The funds gained from the dissolution of the NEH would total around $150 million, and that money would be redirected into a $54 billion increase in defense spending, bringing the Department of Defense's budget to a total of $639 billion, about 4,260 times greater than what would have been allocated to the NEH.

For Hackett and other humanities faculty and directors nationwide, this proposition causes serious concern.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, Moody’s warns
Washington Post

President Trump’s budget proposal to slash federal research funding and end financial support for the arts could hurt the bottom line of colleges and universities that rely on those government dollars, Moody’s Investors Service said Tuesday.

The White House budget, released earlier this month, dials back discretionary funding for agencies that pour billions of dollars into higher education. If Congress passes the budget as proposed, Moody’s analysts say it would add financial stress to a number of colleges and universities.

The credit rating agency warns that the proposed $5.8 billion cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health would have the most significant impact on higher education. Roughly 80 percent of NIH’s budget supports grants to 300,000 researchers at universities across the country. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, for instance, was awarded $651 million in NIH funding in 2016, while University of California at San Francisco received $578 million.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Funding the Humanities
The American Conservative

It seems to be in this spirit that Donald Trump has proposed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities—a move that the White House described as a simple cost-cutting measure. The NEA and NEH are relatively small and inexpensive programs, but they are important sources of funds for artists and researchers whose work might otherwise fall by the wayside. They are also difficult to defend in an age in which government policy is invariably justified with statistics and empirical evidence. The goods the humanities produce and secure can’t always be represented on charts and graphs. In fact, studying the humanities may worsen people’s economic prospects by inducing them to pursue virtue—which doesn’t always pay well—rather than profit.

If we believe that poetry can give us something that boots cannot, we should be suspicious of the materialist impulse to judge culture by economic standards or reduce it to a mere luxury. This suspicion is essentially conservative: while a great deal of left-liberal public policy is based on the doctrine that health, safety, and pleasure are the highest goods, conservatives would deny that the best and most beautiful aspects of human existence are secured through money or force.

Conservatism also allows us to claim that living well is an art cultivated over many generations and not something that each person figures out for herself by herself. The humanities are a living body of reasoning—some ancient and some quite recent—on how to live well. Life without culture is deeply solitary because it forces us to do this sort of reasoning without any help from outside ourselves. The sorts of projects that the NEH and NEA support—from research in the humanities to museum exhibitions to programs that bring Shakespeare plays to rural schoolchildren—give ordinary people access to the history of serious thought about the good. Funding from the two endowments ensures that the old books are still read and talked about; it also supports the production of new works that may find a place in the canon someday.