Speak Up Against Plans to Cut NEH

Letters to the Editors, Op-Eds, Columns Support NEH and Continued Federal Funding for the Humanities

On March 16, 2017, the Trump administration released its FY18 budget blueprint which included the elimination of the cultural agencies: the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and its sister agency the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). While the president’s budget serves as an indicator of the administration’s priorities, it is Congress that ultimately determines funding appropriations. And they need to hear from you! The NEH funds the state humanities councils who help ensure that high-quality humanities programming reaches every congressional district in every state and US territory. Hear what councils and others are saying about these cuts as members and supporters weigh in through letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and guest columns published in local and national papers across the country.

View the Federation’s statement on the proposed defunding of NEH.

Letters to the Editors & Op-Eds from the State Humanities Councils

How the Humanities Helps Our VeteransSan Diego Union Tribune

“When we draw up budgets, we mistakenly think of military and humanities as pitted against each other — military spending equals “theft” from other programs — but this is a false binary. To defund the NEH is to say that we don’t need to better understand soldiers’ experiences, especially as they transition back to civilian life. Increasing spending for military while canceling that for humanities ultimately makes us weaker.”

Natalia Molina, Former Board Member

NEH, NEA Cuts Would Cripple Spokane’s Culture, EconomyThe Spokesman-Review

“The NEA and NEH, while based in Washington, D.C., are present in and a very vital part of the local cultural and educational ecosystem in Washington state. Humanities Washington and ArtsWA serve over 70,000 people in Spokane and the surrounding areas via in-person events and media programs. These programs were created by people in our community for people in our communities via partnerships with many local organizations.”

Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak, Trustee

US Should Save Humanities ProgramsThe Columbus Dispatch

“By eliminating cultural programs, slashing education funding, and weakening protection for natural resources, the budget fails in its promises to “set free the dreams of every American … and begin a new chapter of American greatness.” The savings represented by these cuts will be a mere 0.02 percent of federal spending, but the loss of these agencies will be devastating to Ohio and to the nation.”

Patricia Williamsen, Executive Director

In Praise of the Humanities
Tampa Bay Times

“America was born from ideas; we were humanities-driven from the beginning…The humanities give us prepared voters, informed consumers, and productive workers. They foster a society that is innovative, competitive and strong…”

Steven Seibert, Executive Director

Arts, Humanities are Needed More Than EverThe Berkshire Eagle

“It is sadly ironic that at this moment when our society needs the humanities and the arts more than ever, our nation’s two major cultural agencies, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, are threatened with extinction.”

David Tebaldi, Executive Director

Trump’s Misguided Plan to Eliminate Arts FundingSan Francisco Chronicle

“These are organizations that invest in the people who live in communities of all sizes, stimulating local economies through partnerships with libraries, schools, veterans’ hospitals, nonprofit arts and culture organizations, museums and more.”

Julie Fry, President & CEO

Slashing Humanities Endowment ReprehensibleWest Virginia Charleston Gazette-Mail

“In some states, the donations of private individuals might save their humanities programming; I suspect in West Virginia it will not be enough. West Virginians will lose a valuable resource, and its children will grow up knowing much less about the history, culture and values of their state.”

Ken Fones-Wolfe, Board Member

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Humanities Aren’t Worth the Cost Portland Press Herald

“Here in Maine, the humanities do not live in the ivory tower. Here in Maine, the humanities are part of the rough and tumble of our shared human experience. Yet somehow opponents will try to tell you the humanities are solely for the enjoyment of cultural elites. They couldn’t be more wrong.”

Hayden Anderson, Executive Director

The NEH is at Work in Georgia
Saporta Report

“Georgia Humanities serves as NEH’s “boots on the ground,” so to speak, focusing on local communities and responding to their needs. Georgia Humanities has gathered, preserved, and shared Georgia’s distinctive stories through a range of cultural and educational programs and resources that touch each of Georgia’s 159 counties.”

Jamil Zainaldin, President

Community Voices: Let Lawmakers Know that Funding Humanities Should be Top Priority
Bakersfield California

“As an advisory board member to California Humanities, I can assure you that there is a demand for humanities programs that far exceeds the amount of funding that the organization currently has the capacity to meet. Last fiscal year, for example, California Humanities received more than $9 million in funding requests for humanities projects, but could only fund about 10 percent of all applications.”

Oscar A. Rosales, Professor of History at Bakersfield College, Board Member, Cal Humanities

Don’t Cut Humanities Funding
The Detroit News

“But our schools need the work of [NEH] and the council to teach tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Our communities need the work of the endowment and the council to create understanding and tolerance among their residents… Your town’s library reading program. Understanding the Native American boarding-school tragedy. The discussion with veterans about post-traumatic stress disorder. The special arts program at the third grade classroom. Reviewing the effects of poverty on our culture. These are just a few examples of quality cultural programs sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, of which the National Endowment for the Humanities is a strong supporter.”

Kathleen Mullins & Paul Chaffee, Board

Trump’s Arts Cuts Save 0.002 Percent. We Lose Much More in Community Building
Bellingham Herald

“Eliminating these federal cultural agencies means silencing important programs designed to build community and alleviate the polarization that is tearing at the American social fabric… Cultural programs and the quality of life they provide attract talent for local business, help attract employers with higher-paying jobs and drive tourism. This administration believes we should rebuild our infrastructure, but infrastructure is more than roads and bridges; it’s the libraries, schools, theaters and museums – and the performances and discussions that take place within them – that create community.”

Elizabeth Joffrion, Board Member

America Needs the Humanities More Than EverThe Baltimore Sun

“Still, even for those who agree that the humanities are a fundamental part of our lives, there is the often-cited argument that public funding for the humanities is an example of government overspending. Even overlooking the fact that NEH funding totaled just a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the federal spending last year, we believe federal investment in the humanities is appropriate and necessary. Government support makes ours a nation where thoughtful and informed citizens are committed to a lifetime of learning that invigorates and strengthens our democracy — and our economy — through an open-minded exchange of ideas.”

Phoebe Stein, Executive Director

Humanities Grants Help Tell Stories Long Hidden
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Each of these movies [Loving, Hidden Figures] required hard work, spirited writing, inspired casting, great acting, and also much good fortune — including some initial funding that, long before the movie itself, ended up helping it get off the ground…Starting with a tremendous human story, and moving eventually to a fine feature film based on that story and depicting life two generations ago here in Virginia, these two examples display the vital significance of one of the many state affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH helped bring us stories that had long been hidden.”

Peter Wallenstein, Board Member, Professor of History at Virginia Tech, Author

Investing in Cultural Wealth
Vermont Public Radio

“Both conservatives and liberals understand that there are things more precious than wealth, and more important than power for power’s sake. It’s in the humanities and arts that one finds and comes to understand better many of those priceless things – like faith, love, honor, courage, dedication, compassion, integrity, and sacrifice. The arts and humanities are a large part of our nation’s cultural wealth, part of what makes us a great country. Our nation cannot afford to dispense with the humanities and the arts, especially to save a tiny fraction of the federal budget.”

Peter Gilbert, Executive Director

How the Arts are Part of Our Infrastructure
Kitsap Sun

“The NEA and NEH, while based in Washington D.C., are present in and a very vital part of the local cultural and educational ecosystem in Washington State. Humanities Washington, our state’s NEH affiliate, and ArtsWA, its NEA affiliate, served thousands of people in Kitsap County in 2016. These programs were created by people in our state, for people in our state and local communities.”

Debra Holland & Linley Logan, Board Member, Indigenous Artist & Commissioner of Washington State Arts Commission

We Cannot Afford to Lose Alabama’s Humanities

“When thinking through the reasons to keep supporting the humanities, the number 4.8 million – Alabama’s population – comes to mind. Every Alabama citizen can experience the benefits of the humanities. The humanities help guide individuals in their abilities to reason, think and make choices. They inspire, teach and promote the best in us. They encourage us to think critically about our choices, not simply by marching in lockstep, but actually delving deeper into the problems and issues that face us so that we can reach solutions.”

John Rochester, Circuit Judge, Former Board Member/Interim Executive Director

Humanities and the Arts Serve All Kentuckians
Lexington Herald-Leader

“The humanities is not a liberal or conservative issue, but a gateway to endless possibilities for everyone… Contact your members of Congress and let them know that the humanities are an important part of strengthening Kentucky communities, engaging our citizens and educating our workforce. Let them know that the humanities play a vital role in the lives of the people they represent and the communities they serve.”

Bill Goodman, Executive Director

President’s Funding Cuts Don’t Add Up
The Columbus Dispatch

“The subtle irony in the budget is that many of the people who voted for Trump will be marginalized. Access to programs that help the underserved in rural America and the urban working poor will be reduced or eliminated entirely. As an example, in 2016, Ohio’s public TV stations successfully collaborated to seek a special Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to develop a new statewide emergency alert system, using the signals of the stations themselves. This effort is now a national model, and we are all the safer for it.”

Bill Schiffman, Board Member

Kentucky History Would Be History

“While making up only a minuscule part of the annual federal budget, the impact of organizations supported by the endowments is beyond measure. How do you quantify a family literacy program that seeks to build family bonding and end the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy?… What price would you put on veterans gathering to share how their experiences shaped their lives long after their service ended? How would you determine the impact of rural Kentucky high school students learning from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist?”

Bill Goodman, Executive Director

NEH is Well Worth Supporting
The Oklahoman – NewOk.com

“Local communities need these funds to conduct important cultural projects. We see libraries, museums, Main Street organizations, chambers of commerce, colleges and universities and local school districts come together to tell their communities’ stories. Without federal funds, most of these projects would not be at all possible and the significant economic impact of these programs would be nonexistent.”

Ann Thompson, Executive Director

Without Federal Funding Delaware Humanities Cannot Survive
Delaware State News

“Funding from NEH allows us to attain a simple goal: to give Delawareans access and entry to our shared history, our cultures, our knowledge and our values: the qualities, actions, and words which define and enrich us. It is because of the funds that we receive and distribute from the NEH that we are able to provide the majority of these programs and events at no charge to all Delawareans.”

Susan West, Board Chair

Support for the Humanities is Vital
The Topeka Capital-Journal

“One local beneficiary of the NEH is the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC), with its 45-year track record of strengthening civic life. In 2016, KHC provided over 700 free programs to nearly 400,000 people in all 6 sections of the state. The benefit in terms of education, history and culture is immeasurable, but the real crop KHC grows is community.”

Eric McHenry, KHC Poet Laureate

Trump Threatens the Humanities

“Now it is up to us to defend this cultural inheritance. It is also up to us to ensure that the culture and the humanities do not become a battleground for those who, in the interest of budget balancing, do not understand the value that cultural and humanities work has for the development of our society and its people.”

Cesar A. Rey Hernandez, Executive Director

What are the Humanities and Why Should We Care?
Delaware State News

“The Humanities connect us to each other and help us examine our place in the world. They aren’t partisan. The Humanities are for everyone — and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), like the Delaware Humanities Forum (DHF), ensures that rural, suburban and urban residents have equal access to the world of ideas.”

Kim Burdick, DHF Board Chair

Arts and Humanities are Basic to Community
Casper Journal

“Most of all, we need the arts and humanities. They are vehicles for wisdom and beauty … and perhaps even character and morality. They are important to democracy because they speak to equality, fairness, innovation, creativity, justice, freedom. All fail in practice if the common values are not foundational.”

Audrey Cotherman, First Executive Director

The Humanities Guide Our Growth
Salt Lake Tribune

“How do we measure transformation? How can we quantify human connection? How should we assess critical thinking in a complex world? Ultimately, in what ways can we evaluate the relevance of the humanities? These are questions with which the humanities are often challenged.”

Deena Pyle, Communications Director

Don’t Cut Funding for HumanitiesIndianapolis Star

“The humanities connect us to each other and help us examine our place in the world. They aren’t partisan. They aren’t a luxury. They are essential elements of the infrastructure of what we call community. The humanities are for everyone — and Indiana Humanities ensures that rural, suburban and urban Hoosiers have access to them.”

Jerry Torr, Keira Amstutz & Board, Chair, Executive Director, Indiana Humanities

Budget Cuts May Impact Humanities
Dodge City Daily

“Cutting the NEH would negatively affect our community’s quality of life. It won’t impact the federal budget.”

Jane Holwerda, Jan Stevens, and Brandon Hines, Board Members, Dodge City Residents

Have Another Letter, Op-Ed, or Article to Submit?

We are still collecting letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and major articles developed to demonstrate support for federal funding of NEH and humanities programming. Please send any we may have missed to Natalie Pak at npak@statehumanities.org

Natalie Pak

Articles with Council Quotes Discussing Proposed NEH Defunding & Local Impact

Maryland Arts Organizations Denounce Potential Loss of Federal Funding
The Baltimore Sun

“We really do believe that government support for the humanities really makes our nation, when we have thoughtful and informed citizens who are committed to lifelong learning… We believe a better-informed citizenry strengthens our economy as well. … The value of the humanities far outweighs the cost, particularly in these divided times.”

– Phoebe Stein, Maryland Humanities

How Arts Organizations Are Bracing for Trump’s Possible NEA, NEH Cuts

“What that says is we’re not interested in one another. We’re not interested in what someone else sees or feels or thinks or experiences and to me, if that’s the message we’re receiving from the government, that has ripple effects everywhere… I think that truly affects everyone, even people who don’t think they participate in the arts or humanities at all, which I would actually defy someone to prove.”

Jane Beachy, Illinois Humanities

A Tragedy in the Making? National Cuts to Humanities Would Have Local Impact
News Tribune

“Illinois Humanities have done a great service for small communities that can’t afford to bring an artist of some stature to town. That has been a wonderful resource for rural communities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to put on such a program. The popular culture is a reflection of where people are now. The humanities give you a historical perspective.”

Lee Murdock, Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Participant

Arts Leaders Take Measure of Proposed Cuts
Wisconsin State Journal

“Ninety percent of our funding comes from the NEH. If the NEH is eliminated, the Wisconsin Humanities Council will cease to exist… [and the council can] leverage often more than three times that amount in local funding, but [federal funding] really provides crucial support to get local projects off the ground.”

– Dena Wortzel, Wisconsin Humanities Council

Trump Budget Puts Michigan Arts and Humanities Funding at Risk
Michigan Public Radio

“…funding is vital to keeping many humanities programs afloat. Arts and humanities programs themselves are not profit generating activities… These are a lot of programs that would never happen if it wasn’t for the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

Robbe Dipietro, Michigan Humanities Council

Montana Art, History and Culture Programs Facing “Dramatic” Cuts From Trump’s Budget
The Missoulian

“Without the National Endowment for the Humanities, rural states like Montana would really struggle to have access to history and literature… It would certainly be dramatic, and deeply impact our ability to serve Montanans.”

Kim Anderson, Humanities Montana

What Happens to Indy if the Arts and Humanities are Defunded?
Nuvo.com, Indy’s Alternative Voice

“The humanities are relevant…We’re [providing humanities public programming] opportunities to folks at the very grassroots level. It’s very appreciated and widely used, even here in Marion County… We’re working in prisons. We’ve done programs for veterans. We do programs for school kids. So, maybe they wouldn’t have access to as much programming and ultimately the result of that is less access, less opportunity for life-long learning and communities that aren’t as vibrant and vital.”

Keira Amstutz, Indiana Humanities

Editorial: Arts Greatly Enrich our Society
Providence Journal

“Public access to the humanities — education; exhibitions, tours, performances, and festivals; media; and community and civic engagement — would be severely diminished without the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Humanities Council delivers nearly one-third of our NEH funds directly through grants to people and communities throughout Rhode Island for projects that would not take place without this support.”

– Elizabeth Francis, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

Trump’s Budget Could Hurt Wyoming Arts and Humanities
Wyoming Public Media State Network

“My counterparts in our wealthier states, they’re not going to lose their state councils, because they’re going to have the capacity with their populations to raise the money,” said Smith. “But it’s the rural and smaller states that are going to be devastated by this because there is no way for us to counter the kind of money that comes in through this federal investment in Wyoming.”

Shannon Smith, Wyoming Humanities Council

Oregon Arts Groups Say Trump’s Budget Plan Would Cost State in Many Ways
The Oregonian – OregonLive.com

“We take a very small amount of federal funds and amplify it and get it out all around the state… [Oregon Humanities’] work is a key contributor to weaving the fabric of the state. Everything we do is in partnership with community organizations… that’s my biggest concern about this development – that all takes a hit… these are all efforts to strengthen our civic infrastructures.”

Adam Davis, Oregon Humanities

Proposed Federal Cuts Worry Wyoming Arts and Cultural Groups
Casper Star Tribune

“Us small states are the ones that are going to get hammered by this… New York can make up for its funding through donors, but Wyoming and the other small states, we just don’t have the population to replace that kind of funding… there’s no way for us to raise $700,000 every year out of this population.”

– Shannon Smith,Wyoming Humanities Council

Proposed Federal Budget Threatens Nebraska Arts and Humanities
Hear Nebraska

“What worries me is this infrastructure for the arts, humanities, education and culture disintegrating — across the country, and in Nebraska… There’s nobody doing what we do. It’s a very small investment of taxpayer dollars yielding a really huge benefit to the country.”

Chris Sommerich, Humanities Nebraska

Federal Budget Cuts Reach Mobile Arts
Lagniappe Weekly

“[NEH funds] everything from films to Museum on Main Street to lectures and programs for teachers and students. If NEH were to be abolished it would be hard for the Alabama Humanities Foundation to survive.”

– Al Head, Alabama Humanities Foundation


Groups Say Trump Cuts Could be “Disastrous” for West Virginia Culture Programs
West Virginia Gazette-Mail

“We’re on the ground statewide just about everywhere just about everyday… If the budget passed with that provision, the consequences would be very disastrous for us.”
– Ken Sullivan, West Virginia Humanities

NEH Cuts Could Impact VA Book Festival
The Daily Progress

“The funding is important to us in terms of credibility… When I talk to local companies about what we do, [the NEH association] gives an idea of who we are and why we are good at what we do.

– Jane Kulow, Director, VA Book Festival

Relatively Small Fund Cuts Have Big Impact on Arizona Arts
Cronkite News

“Arts and humanities are not a luxury… they identify who we are as a nation at a cost of less than a dollar a person.”

Brenda Thomson, AZ Humanities

NEH Cuts Could Impact VA Book Festival
The Daily Progress

“We’re always trying to diversify our revenue… However, NEH is a really critical piece of the puzzle.”

– Maggie Guggenheimer, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Interested in reading or learning more? Check out “Finding Unity: Letters to #SavetheNEH” hosted by the National Humanities Alliance on Storify.

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National Concern Over Defunding Cultural Agencies NEH, NEA