National Endowment for the Arts Celebrates 40th Anniversary
NEA marks historic milestone: 40 years bringing arts to American people
September 29, 2005
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts today marks its 40th Anniversary of service to America. On September 29, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, legislation declaring that "the arts and the humanities belong to all the people of the United States" and that support for these pursuits is an "appropriate matter of concern to the Federal Government." Since then, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has played a pivotal role in fostering the arts across the United States.
"For 40 years the NEA has provided national leadership in the arts," said Dana Gioia, chairman of the Arts Endowment. "The NEA has especially been a major catalyst in creating public access for arts and arts education. Our national initiatives, direct grants, research, and partnerships all demonstrate that the arts matter; and our work enhances the quality of life for communities throughout America."
In a complex and dynamic system of public and private arts support, the NEA remains the nation's largest annual funder of the arts. While the NEA's budget represents less than 1 percent of total arts philanthropy in the U.S., NEA grants have a powerful multiplying effect, with each grant dollar typically generating seven to eight times more money in matching grants. Since 1965, the NEA has awarded more than 124,000 grants that have brought art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. Projects range from artist residencies in schools to museum exhibitions, Internet initiatives, literary fellowships, national tours, international exchanges, theater festivals, design competitions, folk arts and historic preservation, and much more.
Before the NEA was founded, widespread democratic access to the arts was limited primarily to a few large cities. The NEA has provided critical seed funds to develop regional theater, opera, ballet, symphony orchestras, museums, and other art organizations in small and mid-size cities across the country. Some of these regional arts organizations, which received critical early support from the NEA, have developed worldwide acclaim, including Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company and The Spoleto Festival, a performing and visual arts event in Charleston, South Carolina.
More recently, the NEA has created national initiatives that offer model programs of artistic merit and national reach. Among these, the 2005 NEA Jazz Masters Initiative celebrates this distinctly American musical tradition through the NEA Jazz Masters Award, a 50-state NEA Jazz Masters tour with performances and educational activities, broadcast programs, and educational resources. Since summer 2004, the NEA Arts Journalism Institutes have trained journalists from smaller cities in arts criticism for classical music, opera, theater and dance. Shakespeare in American Communities is the largest tour of Shakespeare in American history, having brought new Shakespeare productions and special in-school programs to more than 500 communities, military and civilian, across all 50 states. Starting this fall, American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius, will bring master works in variety of art forms, along with presentations and educational programming, to large and small communities across the country.
Since its inception, the NEA has been a leader in arts education. Through direct grants, partnerships, research, and initiatives, the agency has led efforts to make the arts a part of the core education for all pre-K through grade 12 students and to increase opportunities outside of school settings for additional arts learning. Currently, a series of NEA Institutes for Teachers, School Leaders, and Summer School in the Arts are supporting the development and evaluation of standards-based pilot projects for educators, students, and school administrators.
Finally, the NEA has helped shape the public dialogue on the arts through groundbreaking research. The 2004 report "Reading at Risk" sounded a warning bell on the decline of literary reading in America, and how this decline affects American civic and cultural life. Other studies on creativity and aging, cultural tourism, arts education, and artists in the workforce highlight the significant economic and social impact of the arts in America.
NEA history on the Internet
To help observe the 40th anniversary, the NEA website introduces "Highlights in NEA History," a compendium of historic and current programs made possible by NEA support. For more information, visit www.arts.gov.
40 years of service, then and now
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The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency