Publication Date

October 16, 2017

The outlook for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is far more positive now than it was nine months ago when news leaked that the Trump administration would propose eliminating the agency, along with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda (left) emphasized the importance of the NEH and NEA to American democracy while accepting the Freedom Award from the US Capitol Historical Society in September for his work creating Hamilton: An American Musical and the Hamilton Education Program. Wikimedia Commons

With the NEH under threat, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) mobilized grassroots advocates to send messages and make calls to Congress. We also encouraged college presidents, provosts, deans, and museum directors in key districts to make direct appeals to their congressional delegations. Scholarly societies, including the American Historical Association, mobilized their members to participate in these efforts and to travel to Washington to meet with members of Congress as part of NHA’s Humanities Advocacy Day. These efforts were complemented by Congress and the Humanities Showcase,” which recognized Congress for its ongoing support of the NEH and honored the creative and innovative work the NEH supports in serving K–12 students, veterans, tribal nations, and rural communities. Five NEH grantees presented their work, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of members of Congress. The showcase underscored the importance of the NEH to their communities.

The following day, Miranda travelled around the Capitol with the NHA making the case for the importance of broad access to the humanities and arts. He joined a bipartisan group from the New York delegation and the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the NEH and NEA. He also thanked the chairs of the Senate Cultural Caucus, Congressional Humanities Caucus, and Congressional Arts Caucus.

We are grateful that Miranda has chosen to draw more attention to the important role that the NEH plays in providing access to the humanities in communities around the country. His advocacy comes at a pivotal time, as FY 2018 funding is being finalized. It also comes as an increasing number of representatives and senators—from both sides of the aisle—are recognizing the important role that the NEH plays in the communities they represent. Miranda’s time on the Hill, combined with the grassroots humanities advocacy that NHA members like the AHA have fostered over the past nine months, lead us to be increasingly optimistic about the future of the NEH.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

Stephen Kidd is the executive director of the National Humanities Alliance.

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