NEH in the News
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.
“The arts and humanities have value because they make us better human beings. That’s basically it. They teach us history and encourage virtue, they help us debate serious issues in a respectful (or sometimes indirect) manner, they make us appreciate beauty, they make us more empathetic and they challenge our own beliefs.”
“On the day before the inauguration, the federal government-focused newspaper The Hill reported that Trump staffers have outlined plans to eliminate or drastically cut support for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities…..Haines writer Heather Lende, who received an award for distinguished service to the humanities, spoke about the importance of the arts: “People a thousand years from now must know we were more than what appeared in our headlines and our tweets.”
While Naper Settlement does not receive all of its funding from the federal government, a proposal made by President Donald Trump to cut the National Endowment for Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, as reported by The Hill , would have an impact on museums across the nation.