a2ru Response to NEA and NEH Threat of Elimination
February 1, 2016
DATE: February 1, 2017
MEMO: a2ru’s response to NEA and NEH threat of elimination
TO: a2ru Partners
FROM: a2ru Executive Committee and Staff
As a national organization representing 37 of our nation’s top-ranking research universities and tens of thousands of the world’s most renowned educators, researchers, scholars, and creative practitioners, the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) is deeply concerned by recent discussions regarding federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as reported by The Hill on January 19, 2017. According to that report the White House administration plans to target the NEA and NEH for elimination.
America’s greatest asset as a democratic society is borne of its diverse people and culture. In addition to scientific discovery, our contribution to the world and the advancement of civilization is a direct result of this diverse culture: our government, our laws, our songs, our films, our stories, our fashions, and our way of life — indeed all that is represented in the arts and humanities. Culture is rooted in people, place, and community; our cultural production cannot be outsourced. All that we produce as a society, from cars to movies, are a result of this culture, explicitly and implicitly. Arts, design, and humanities programs at our colleges and universities educate future generations to be informed, innovative, and productive. Although minimally funded, the NEH and NEA are the keystones of American investment in cultural development and innovation. To be vibrant and relevant in our global world, we must continue to invest in our diverse arts and culture.
Return on investment: the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in collaboration with NEA, showed that in 2013, the most recent year for which estimates are available, arts and cultural production contributed $704.2 billion to the U.S. economy, ahead of construction by $85 billion and was three times larger than agriculture; generating employment for 4.7 million wage and salary workers. Globally, the same year it generated a healthy trade surplus of $24 billion. In short, in addition to the irreparable damage to culture, a potential cut to either agency jeopardizes the creative core of a very healthy, successful economic sector.1
The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) advances arts and arts-integrative curricula, programs, and creative practices in higher education to expand the vital role of higher education in our global society. We have seen and experienced the multiplying effects of the NEA and NEH over the past 50 years, fostering creativity, innovation, citizenship, democracy and community. a2ru, together with a host of local, regional, and national organizations, advocates for the importance and relevance of the arts and humanities in higher education and in Americans’ lives. With the entire NEA annual budget costing $1-2 per household per year, the current Administration’s consideration of a proposal to cut NEA and NEH funding is both a real and symbolic act that fosters a perception of smaller government (each agency received $148 million — 0.004 percent of the federal budget — in 2016).2 The consequences of such an agenda are grave. We will harness the power of our alliance, as part of a collective effort to not only retain but to expand federal support for the arts and humanities in America.
a2ru values the research university as a driver towards a better world. We will continue to advocate to make our universities places where the arts and humanities thrive, and where arts practitioners and creative research collaborations across many disciplines—engineering, arts, sciences, humanities, social sciences—flourish. We strive to be at the vanguard of efforts to educate, advocate, and act to ensure that the arts and humanities remain central to higher education and our greater society.
a2ru looks forward to working with the vast inspiring network of committed individuals and institutions across the nation who share our dedication to the critical role these agencies play in preserving and evolving our civil society and furthering the human condition. If you have any questions about a2ru’s mission or initiatives, we encourage you to contact us. We invite your active involvement. Feel free to distribute this message to other colleagues on your campuses and in your communities.