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NEH in the News

Selected articles on NEH-supported projects.
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.

Posted: March 27, 2017 From University's perspective, Trump's proposed budget is 'a disaster'
Duke Chronicle

Although a president’s first budget outline rarely gets passed as proposed, Trump’s plan has been particularly controversial—with potential consequences for the University.

The current budget proposal is a “skinny budget,” explained Chris Simmons, associate vice president of federal relations. It currently includes large cuts to entities like the National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Humanities and Department of Education, while increasing defense spending by $54 billion.

“I think the budget is a disaster, but it’s just the first step in a long process, and we’re going to work hard to rectify these issues,” Simmons said.

Posted: March 27, 2017 A Conservative Case For Why Trump Should Fund the Arts
The Daily Beast

For decades, conservatives questioned the need for the government to financially support the arts and humanities. Now they may have the opportunity to put an end to what they believe are the unnecessary, even destructive cultural agencies set up in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In calling for their complete elimination, the president is taking a radical step that only Ronald Reagan, of all our previous presidents, first favored.

When Reagan considered ending the arts endowment in 1981, the effort was halted by his friend Charlton Heston, also a Hollywood Democrat turned conservative. “The transition team really did want to de-fund it,” Marc Hogan reported in Pitchfork. As Barnabas Henry, head of the president’s special task force on the arts and humanities later told The New York Times: “... we put a lot of people on the task force like Charlton Heston and Adolph Coors who were close to the President, and we all thought the task force did finally persuade him that it would be a terrible thing to stop the federal support.”

Posted: March 27, 2017 Leaders of Reddit History Forum Break ‘No-Politics’ Rule to Oppose Trump’s NEH Cuts

The AskHistorians section of Reddit has become a popular forum for history buffs to share their knowledge in a strictly moderated environment. The goal is to celebrate the past, and the group’s rules are clear: No discussion of current events (defined as less than 20 years old) and “no soapboxing” or expressing political views.

Decidedly current political events punctured that bubble last week, however, when the moderators broke their own guidelines to advocate against President Donald Trump’s proposal to strip all funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts (which now receive about $148 million per year each).

“NEH funding indirectly supports what you're reading right now,” the moderators argued in a post to the group, which has more than half a million subscribers. “We don't get political for a particular candidate, a particular party, or a particular point of view. We get political when good history matters. If you’re American, we’re asking you to call your Congressmen and Congresswomen to support funding for the NEA and NEH.”

Posted: March 26, 2017 Across America, artists are searching for answers about Trump's planned funding cuts
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

There's no time to wait-and-see. American artists, researchers and media people are already planning what comes next should President Donald Trump's plan to cut all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) pass through Congress.

The president laid out the plan in his proposed budget earlier this month. The funds the trio of organizations gets from Washington make up a miniscule portion of the overall federal budget — in the 2016 fiscal year total federal spending was an estimated $3.9 trillion US. The NEA got $147.9 million US and the NEH requested the same amount (that's about 0.004 per cent each) while the CPB received $445 million US (around 0.01 per cent).

That's not a lot of money next to the trillions spent overall, but it's vital for hundreds of recipients, scattered in galleries, universities, museums, radio booths and television studios throughout the United States.