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NEH in the News

Selected articles on NEH-supported projects.
Posted: March 29, 2017 VMFA to receive federal grant to digitize archive of photographer Louis Draper
Richmond Times - Dispatch

The vast body of work by Richmond-born photographer Louis Draper soon will be one mouse click away from a worldwide audience.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts a $173,833 grant to digitize, preserve and share its archive of photographs, negatives and other materials by Draper, who earned his fame as a street photographer capturing the everyday life of black Americans during the civil rights era.

Draper died in 2002 and largely was ignored in his hometown during his lifetime. He served as a teacher and mentor to other photographers after he moved to New York in 1957.

The VMFA last year acquired a substantial collection of work from Draper’s estate, including 2,822 photographs, 42,116 negatives, 748 contact sheets, 4,378 color and black-and-white slides, 36 computer-generated images, and 71 computer disks, as well as his camera equipment and valuable archival documents and publications.

The museum originally had purchased 13 of Draper’s photographs in 2013.

“With this grant, we can ensure the preservation of these photographs and related materials for future generations to explore and learn from, as this archive offers an unparalleled window into a transformational moment in our nation’s history. Draper gave us a different and meaningful perspective each time he clicked the shutter on his camera,” VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said.

The grant announcement is significant — and may even be the last — in light of President Donald Trump’s recent proposal to eliminate four independent cultural agencies: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Posted: March 29, 2017 White House details how it wants civilian agencies to cut $18B in FY2017
Federal News Radio

The White House has a few more details about how exactly it wants to cut $18 billion from some civilian agencies and offset significant boosts to defense and homeland security spending for the rest of fiscal 2017.

According to budget documents obtained by Federal News Radio, many agencies would see reductions to their education, grant and research programs as well as those State Department programs that offer foreign aid and assistance.

The White House also proposed a few topline cuts to some agencies and a significant reduction to a federal shared services initiative.

Many of the proposed cuts are not necessarily a surprise, as they strike similarities with the reductions President Donald Trump outlined in his fiscal 2018 budget blueprint. And much of the White House rhetoric used to detail and justify these reductions describes programs that are low or no longer priorities — or initiatives that lack substantial evidence and data to rationalize continued support from Congress.

Posted: March 28, 2017 Commentary: Maintain full funding for National Endowment for the Humanities
Philadelphia Inquirer

If you were asked to invest in a project where the outcome included effective education, empowerment, a less-divided community, and citizens who are better equipped for employment with a renewed capacity for respect, you'd likely reach for your checkbook. That's exactly what the National Endowment for the Humanities, with bipartisan support from Congress, has done for decades.

But now, with recent reports that the Trump administration wants to eliminate the NEH, along with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, those benefits could disappear. And that would be a tragic loss.

An independent federal agency established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, NEH spends the money well. It provides grant funding to foster humanities education and programming at universities, colleges, libraries, and museums. And it supports 56 state and territory humanities councils, including one in Pennsylvania. Annual spending by the NEH amounts to .003 percent of the federal budget, yet that money has an enormous impact, largely through the work of the humanities councils.

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.