NEH in the News
Through their grants, NEH provides millions of dollars across the country and in the state of Utah to support a range of programs including children's literacy projects; study groups that help veterans reintegrate into civilian life; continuing education of K-12 teachers through teacher‑education seminars; museum exhibits about America's rich history for urban and rural communities; and grants that help libraries and archives preserve America's cultural heritage, to name just a portion of their programs. The NEH, like the humanities disciplines it supports, is essential to the health of our democracy because it supports the development of our educated citizenry.
The main role of both agencies is to provide grants to those participating in the arts and humanities across the United States. For the Endowment for the Humanities, that means libraries, museums, colleges across the United States. For the Endowment for the Arts, that means helping to fund artists and art-related projects all across the U.S. To cut funding for the arts and the humanities is to cut at the fabric of American culture itself. These are the programs that help build our libraries and museums, that help provide innovative artists with the funds they needed to aid their creative expression. Those things just wouldn’t be there to the extent they are without any government funding.
The company’s Super Bowl spot for Lifewtr, its brand of premium bottled water, aims to help consumers become #MoreInspired by focusing on the beauty and importance of art and culture. But it comes just days after the Trump administration vowed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities; programs that, among other things, extend arts to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access to creative experiences.
The searing novel by Alice Walker that transformed your sense of the social world, the ancient flint arrowhead that transported your understanding of time, the tempestuous Hudson River School painting that showed you the divine in nature, are all extravagances unworthy of the support we call “public.” Beauty - the ideas that convey it, the objects that carry it, the words that harness it - is out in the era of Donald Trump. Or at least, this is the insinuation of the President’s team when they threaten to place the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts on the chopping block.
The relatively small grants can mean a lot, especially to small arts organizations, but it’s a drop in the bucket in terms of the national budget — the combined $298 million cost of the NEA and NEH are roughly 0.006 percent of the $3 trillion federal budget. That’s less than 94 cents per capita per year to fund.
On humanities and arts, The Hill reports that under the current budget blueprint, “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” Of course, the Trumpistas’ disdain for “bicoastal elites” is almost unlimited, and their contempt for intellectuals and academics is total.
(A rough English translation of the original German)
The "National Endowment for the Arts" [sic] has existed for half a century, since it was established under President Johnson because "democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens." Since 1965, this American federal agency has awarded more than 63,000 fellowships, educated 11 million students, sponsored 56,000 lectures and seminars, and supported seven thousand books that would otherwise have remained unwritten. (So much to the assertion that the Americans are a mindless nation of barbarians.)
Here is a tour of the debate that reignited this month when The Hill newspaper reported that the Trump administration was considering eliminating the art and humanities agencies and defunding the nonprofit public broadcasting corporation as part of a wider program of federal budget cuts.
Among these endangered programs is the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds and promotes museums, libraries, research and educational programs, and public participation, all at a cost of $0.46 per capita. This work is intersectional, involving history, anthropology, cultural studies, literature and philosophy, architecture and design, and the arts (although the National Endowment for the Arts is a separate agency). This is not about maintaining ivory towers but rather bringing scholarship to bear on questions of concern to local communities and those of us living and working in them: How shall we live? Where have we been? Where are we headed, and is that where we wish to go?
In 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts and its neighbor, the National Endowment for the Humanities, may have assumed they had suffered their final indignity at the hands of Donald Trump. The developer had secured a lease to build what would become the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office, a resplendent National Historic Site that housed the two agencies — which were forced to retreat to more banal digs. That blow stung, but it was nothing compared to the news recently leaked from Trump’s budget shop.