Save the NEH and the NEA!

This morning President Trump released his blueprint for the budget for the coming fiscal year. Given the rhetoric of the campaign, and the selective leaks over the last several weeks, no one should be surprised by this intense militarization of federal spending, nor by its attempt to dramatically downsize aspects of government that protect the environment and care for the most vulnerable. These are subjects that one can read about elsewhere.

As the president of an educational institution, I want only to underscore how these plans undermine some of the most important resources for cultural preservation, for research and inquiry, and for the dissemination of ideas. In other words, these plans are counter-educational. The budget blueprint represents a radical abdication of governmental responsibility for our nation’s culture. It calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Non-military scientific research will also see significant cuts to funding. The combination of cuts would be a disaster for education.

Like many colleges and universities across the country, Wesleyan has benefitted greatly from federal support for innovative programing in the arts and humanities. But it’s also the broader American public that benefits from advances in arts and humanities work. Recently, the NEA “Art Works” program has helped Wesleyan University Press publish some of the best American poetry in print, and the NEH has helped fund seminars fostering interdisciplinary inquiry and research like Sumarsam‘s on Indonesian performing arts, and Andrew Curran’s and Jennifer Tucker’s separate projects connecting historical inquiry with broad public purpose. The NEH also has helped us make out-of-print publications available in free e-editions through the Humanities Open Book Program. From a government agencies point of view, these are all small grants. But from the recipients’ point of view, this support can be essential for facilitating progress on scholarly research, providing a platform for sharing ideas, or both.

The current administration calls for putting “America first,” but it seems to believe that only our military matters in this regard. We must resist government plans that make support for American culture last. Please let your representatives know that higher education depends on adventurous research and expression, and that eliminating federal support for scholarship and the arts will undermine one of the most important dimensions of our cultural ecology.

1 thought on “Save the NEH and the NEA!”

  1. The funding of left wing “cultural” indoctrination by taxpayers through NEA, NEH & PBS is hardly essential. Have your left wing buddies Jonathan Soros and Bob Allbritton (each Wes ’92) pick up the tab as part of their New World Order globalization scam. In fact, have your coastal elite pals pay a 10 cent surcharge (add it to the price of a movie ticket) to see Hollywood’s propaganda and a larger surcharge to Broadway extravaganzas like your beloved Hamilton to fund these useless propaganda agencies. We ordinary folks have always helped the “truly needy” but are sick and tired of compelled participation in the funding of your liberal BS sold as “cultural preservation.”
    Marx has been dead a long time and the real Hamilton would be appalled to see how far central government has strayed from its original intended missions. The unaccountable public sector must shrink including duplicative and unessential defense spending before the entire economic fabric of this country evaporates.

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