NEH in the News
The Maine Humanities Council, based in Portland, recently was awarded a $220,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support programming that will create opportunities for Mainers to discuss matters of critical civic importance, according to a news release from the council.
Literature and Public Life is a three-year, statewide initiative scheduled to begin in the fall. The goal of the initiative is to bring together Mainers of all backgrounds to engage with public policy issues that profoundly shape Maine communities. Topics will include healthcare, education, end-of-life and domestic violence.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $696,301 to the Charlottesville-based Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, according to a news release.
Four individual VFH projects were awarded grant funds between January and March 2017.
Encyclopedia Virginia has been awarded $366,373 to work up "Slavery and the African American Experience in Virginia," a digital resources for the public and classroom use. "With Good Reason" radio was allocated $180,000 for “Voices of Vietnam: A Public Radio Series,” a series of six 30-minute programs detailing the experience of veterans and Vietnamese citizens ahead of the conflict's 50th anniversary. The Backstory podcast was awarded $100,000, an extension of 2014 funding, to produce "Finding the American Way," an audio series detailing the nation's "defining ideas, emerging social movements, and evolving concept of personal rights," Maggie Guggenheimer, VFH's director of external relations, wrote in an email. And finally, $49,928 will be used for “Federated Resource for Eastern Shore Heritage," a VFH-led group that also includes the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Eastern Shore Museums Network, aiming to create a digital catalog of the Eastern Shore's history.
More than 150 members of Congress have signed a letter strongly advocating for an increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) — a demand that represents a stark split from President Trump’s own calls to simply eliminate it, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and other agencies. The signatories, notably, include 11 House Republicans, signaling growing bipartisan support for the NEA.
Penned by co-chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus, Representatives Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), the letter suggests raising support to $155 million from its current level of about $148 million. It was sent, at the end of March, to Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the House subcommittee that provides annual appropriations for the NEA and the NEH; and to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), a ranking member of that subcommittee.
A recent Bureau of Economic Analysis report noted the arts, entertainment and hospitality sector generates 4.2 percent of the United States gross domestic product — $704 billion. It accounts for more than $100 billion higher than the construction industry. Yet the president’s budget would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts’ $148 million budget, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ $148 million budget and $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
These cuts, together, would trim a whopping 0.2 percent of federal spending. They are described in The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance,” upon which the Trump budget is based, as “wasteful federal spending.”
In contrast, in his 10 weeks in office, Trump has spent about $24 million of taxpayer money on seven trips to Mar-a-Lago. Over the course of the year, at this pace, he’ll spend nearly the National Endowment for the Arts’ budget just on golf outings and “summits” that could be held anywhere — say, at the White House, for example.
But of course, not all national spending is equal. While the president’s weekly trips to Mar-a-Lago are costing taxpayers millions, they’re benefiting … Mar-a-Lago, which he owns, and which doubled its membership fee to $200,000 a year when he became president. Conversely, every dollar of direct federal funding on the arts and humanities leverages up to $9 in other funds.
The NEH sends federal money to the Wyoming Humanities Council – money that makes up 70 percent of the group’s budget. There, it’s used to fund cultural activities throughout the state, like the Casper Humanities Festival, lecture series, reading programs and more.
Arts and humanities actually help contribute to the state’s bottom line. They boost Wyoming’s burgeoning tourism economy by attracting visitors to festivals and museums. Those visitors pour money into local economies during their stay. Cities like Casper or Cheyenne might be able to find the money to hold those kinds of events themselves, but more rural areas like Lusk, Lovell or Newcastle, to name a few, would truly struggle.
Valdosta State University’s Archives and Special Collections was recently featured on the National Endowment for the Humanities website as part of its “50 States of Preservation” series.
“The National Endowment for the Humanities is an important organization that works with archives, museums, and libraries all over the United States,” said Deborah Davis, director of VSU Archives and Special Collections. “They are one of the largest national funders of humanities programs.
“They chose VSU Archives and Special Collections to represent the state of Georgia. It is a huge honor for our digital preservation program to receive national recognition, and the National Endowment for the Humanities helped us do that.”
The article highlights the university’s journey to secure digital preservation. After a series of freak accidents in 2011, VSU Archives and Special Collections lost more than 80 gigabytes worth of electronic files. They received a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant in 2012 and were able to implement better hardware, more consistent policies and procedures for tracking items, and a comprehensive digital preservation strategy.
The Kansas Humanities Council is celebrating 45 years of bringing history and culture to communities across the state this year. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kansas Humanities Council awards grants and organizes speakers, authors and films about current issues and historical events. Events are provided at a minimal cost to the hosting organizations and are free for the public to attend.
“War Declared!” announced a small headline on the front page of the Vernon County Censor on April 11, 1917. No giant type across the top of the page, no photographs of a nation preparing to enter the Great War – just one column of information in amongst stories of the spring election and other news. The article noted that President Wilson “solemnly warns all subjects of Germany within our country to keep within bounds in action and speech,” a pointed remark for a state with a very large German immigrant population.
The museum is preparing new exhibits to mark this 100th anniversary of World War I. The first exhibit is already up, featuring colorful “souvenirs” that soldiers purchased as gifts for their loved ones. These weren’t so much souvenirs of the war as souvenirs of the places where the soldiers were sent. Most of the items on display are from France, where the majority of those sent overseas spent time during and after the war.
Recently, the National Endowment for the Humanities guaranteed the academy would expand with a $100,000 grant, one of only two awarded in the country to serve high school students.
The college’s Meelia Center for Community Engagement sponsors the academy and enlists St. Anselm students as instructors and coordinators of seven different high school credit courses ranging from creative writing to environmental studies and computer literacy.
Several instructors said they got more out of the experience than did the high school students.
Xavier University is hosting a traveling exhibition that draws a direct historical connection between the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the March on Washington 100 years later.
As part of our yearlong commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated 49 years ago this month, we are reflecting on the past, evaluating the present – and seeking solutions for the future.
The traveling exhibition, which debuted in 2014, is called “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963,” and opened to the public at Xavier’s library on March 22.
"Changing America" is presented by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office.
It is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities.