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NEH in the News

Selected articles on NEH-supported projects.
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.

Posted: March 27, 2017 Gillibrand speaks out in defense of the arts, public media
North Country Public Radio

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Plattsburgh on Friday talking about the need to protect arts organizations from potential cuts in the federal budget.

President Trump wants to zero out all federal funding for the arts, humanities, and public media. Gillibrand said more people need to speak out against Trump’s budget proposals.

Speaking at the Strand Center for the Arts in a room full of anxious leaders from local arts organizations and nonprofits, Gillibrand said President Trump’s budget proposals would be devastating.

“He plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – I don’t know what he has against Big Bird – and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences,” she said. “These are fundamental funding programs for arts across the nation.”

Posted: March 27, 2017 Can Programs That Help the Military Save the Federal Arts Agencies?
New York Times

The N.E.H. programs for veterans or service personnel include the Warrior Chorus, in which veterans perform classical texts and their own writing. The program has received $650,000 from the agency since 2014, including another $300,000 being announced this week.

One of its productions, “Our Trojan War,” was staged last week in Austin, Tex., in a run that is due at BAM Fisher in Brooklyn in April.

Marco Reininger, who served in Afghanistan, took part in an earlier production, of Sophocles’ play “Philoctetes.” “Seeing, through the play, how little had changed about the reality of armed conflict and the experience of the humans tasked with executing it pulled me in very deeply,” he said. “The warriors and citizens of ancient Greece had the same questions and carried the same trauma as soldiers do today.”

The fate of projects like the Warrior Chorus is likely to be determined in key congressional appropriations committees as they consider whether the two endowments should be funded, and at what level. In the past, lawmakers have cited the military and veterans’ programs when justifying budget increases for the endowments, which now each receive roughly $148 million.

Posted: March 27, 2017 'The Fight of Our Generation'
Insider Higher Education

Librarians are gearing up for a “marathon” effort to preserve federal funding for libraries, research, the arts and the humanities. The Trump administration earlier this month outlined its first budget plan, which if enacted would bring cuts to many federal programs on which libraries rely and eliminate several independent agencies.

The budget proposes to eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which manages a host of grant programs. Crucially, the institute administers the Library Services and Technology Act, a program that libraries across the country depend on to fund their own services. The budget proposal is still just a blueprint, and in some sense it serves as a political statement from a new administration. Funding priorities will undoubtedly shift ahead of the more detailed draft, expected in May, and then again as the proposal is turned into appropriations bills this fall.