What is the National Endowment for the Arts and what would we lose without it? (For starters, works like ‘Hamilton’)
After Thursday’s announcement of President Trump’s budget blueprint, many are left worried about the fate of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both of which have been earmarked for elimination.
Here’s a breakdown of what you should know about each organization and what stands to be lost if they’re defunded.
National Endowment for the Arts
Established: Created by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.
Mission: According to the NEA website, the organization “funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.”
Budget: Nearly $148 million. Framed differently, the NEA allocation makes up 0.013% of all discretionary spending or 0.004% of the total 2015 federal budget.
Additional funding: The NEA’s network of matching investors means that every dollar of direct federal funding leverages up to $9 in private and alternate public funds. The organization raised $500 million in matching support in 2016.
Distribution: Last year NEA grants were awarded in every congressional district in the country, with more than 2,400 grants being recommended.
Thank them for: “August: Osage County,” “Hamilton” and “Next to Normal,” all of which won Pulitzer prizes and started at theaters that received NEA funding.
Since 1990, 95 of the 164 American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were prior recipients of NEA fellowships.
National Endowment for the Humanities
Established: Created by the same National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.
Mission: From the NEH website: “The National Endowment for the Humanities serves and strengthens our nation by supporting high quality projects and programs in the humanities and by making the humanities available to all Americans.”
What are “humanities”: As cited in the amended National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, humanities include (but are not limited to) the study and interpretation of language, linguistics, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, archaeology, comparative religion, ethics, arts criticism and much more.
Budget: $146 million in 2015, making its percentage share of the federal budget equally minuscule.
Thank them for: Ken Burns’ “The Civil War,” the 1990 nine-episode PBS miniseries. Sixteen Pulitzer-winning books, including “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
The NEA provides grants for individuals and groups looking to create, whether it’s writing a novel or directing a play or choreographing a musical.
The NEH provides grants for individuals and groups looking to examine the historical and critical context of art.
While the NEA may help win Pulitzers for musicals or fiction, the NEH helps win them for history and biographies.
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