The NEH and NEA Are National Treasures: Save Them
My standard for publishing posts with advocacy ambitions is relatively high: namely I need to be convinced that the matter at hand will potentially inflict significant blows to the work of academics and museum professionals as related to the eighteenth century, or that some important material inheritance related to the eighteenth century is endangered. Threats to the NEH and the NEA are hardly new, but given the now entirely extraordinary context of American politics, such threats could be realized. As the National Humanities Alliance notes, there’s nothing inherently partisan about this issue, and coalitions of Republicans and Democrats care deeply about these organizations. Now is the time to vocalize how important we believe the NEH and NEA to be for the common good of the United States. –Craig Hanson
From the NHA (19 January 2017). . .
News broke this morning that the in-coming Trump Administration has a budget blueprint that proposes the elimination of NEH, along with other cultural agencies, and a major downsizing of others. This news has elicited great concern from the humanities community, and it is undoubtedly time to rally support for the National Endowment for the Humanities. That said, this blueprint is not an official proposal. The Trump Administration will be shaping its budget request over the coming months with broad input and we look forward to an opportunity to demonstrate the value of federal funding for NEH.
We are also heartened by Republican support in Congress, which has been strong over the past few years. Indeed, Republican-controlled appropriations committees have supported increases for both NEA and NEH for the past two fiscal years. More broadly, many Republicans have opposed far more minor cuts to the agency.
Consistently, Members of Congress have been compelled by advocacy that points out that:
• Through a rigorous peer-review process, NEH funds cutting-edge research, museum exhibits that reach all parts of the country, and cultural preservation of local heritage that would otherwise be lost.
• NEH’s Standing Together initiative funds reading groups for veterans that help them process their experiences through discussions on the literature of war; writing programs for veterans suffering from PTSD; and training for Veterans Affairs staff to help them better serve veterans.
• NEH grants catalyze private investment. Small organizations leverage NEH grants to attract additional private, local support. NEH’s Challenge Grant program has leveraged federal funds at a 3:1 ratio to enable organizations to raise more than $3 billion in private support. State Humanities Councils, meanwhile, leverage $5 for every dollar of federal investment. Grants through the Public Programs division have leveraged more than $16 billion in non-federal support, an 8:1 ratio.
We ask you now to send a message to your Members of Congress and the President-Elect to make clear that you, as a constituent, value the humanities.
Going forward, we will call on you again as the Congressional appropriations process for FY 2018 begins. We also encourage you to join us for our Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day on March 13th and 14th. Our goal is for constituents to visit Members of Congress from all 50 states to ensure that Congress serves as a stopgap to any efforts to defund NEH. Finally, we encourage you to spread word on social media. The more advocates receiving our alerts, the stronger our collective impact!
Note (added 20 January, 7am EST) — Jennifer Germann usefully notes this petition related to upcoming NEA funding.