In response to news released on January 19 announcing that the Trump administration plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel released the following statement:
The Trump administration’s plans, reported in The Hill this morning, to abolish wholesale the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are an outrageous abdication of the U.S. government’s proud history of support for groundbreaking research and creative endeavors that have served as engines of innovation and bolstered America’s stature as a haven for free thinkers and a global leader in humanity’s shared quest for knowledge.
The National Endowment for the Humanities, founded in 1965, is a leading source of funding for humanities programs in the United States. Its grants support cultural institutions including museums, libraries, and public television, as well as universities and individual scholarship. It has supported over 7,000 book projects, including 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and the United States Newspaper Project, cataloguing over 60 million pages of historic newspapers for future use by scholars.
The National Endowment for the Arts, also established in 1965, supports participation and scholarship in the arts, works to ensure equal access to arts and culture for all Americans, and partners with state and local leaders to support creative initiatives at the community level. Its funding supports literature, visual arts, dance, theater, museums, and arts education programs around the country
The announcement that this is even under consideration casts a sinister cloud over our vibrant national culture, stoking fears that the Trump Administration aims to usher in a new Dark Ages in America. U.S. leadership and innovation in arts, culture, and the humanities are wellsprings of American greatness and the envy of the world. This proposal sends shivers down the spine of all Americans who value research, scholarship, and creativity and who recognize the mortal blow that eliminating these vital agencies would strike at the heart of treasured sectors of our society. Even apart from the essential resources at stake, the signal sent by this gesture is a slap in the face to artists, writers, researchers, and scholars who are learning that the Administration seems to consider their work worthless.
Executive Director, PEN America
January 19, 2017
Photo credit PEN America under CC BY SA 4.0 license
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.