Support Continued Funding of NEH, NEA, PBS, and NPR
As announcements of potential arts and humanities funding cuts loom, Utah's advocates are increasingly framing their arguments in the language of economic progress, underscoring educational tours and community-based programs. Support the arts, they say, and you're supporting job creation in the creative economy, as well as the state's branding and tourism.
Cynthia Buckingham Addresses the Importance of Utah's Cultural Sector
Cynthia Buckingham, executive director here at Utah Humanities, spoke articulately on behalf of Utah's cultural sector in a Salt Lake Tribune article:
Throughout Utah, federal arts funding is amplified through local partnerships, advocates say. "I would defy any business to squeeze a nickel more than any of the state's nonprofits do," says Buckingham. "We make a little go a long, long way."
Utah last year, the NEA awarded $731,600 to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. With matching state and private funding, the state awarded $2,168,671 in 261 grants to support arts groups, museums, educational and cultural activities throughout the state. Separately, the NEA awarded 20 direct grants to Utah agencies, totaling $577,500.
In 2015, NEH awarded $636,000 to Utah Humanities, which was matched with some $400,000 from private and public sources, and then that funding was enhanced with more than $682,000 in goods and services from Utah partners. (Official figures from 2016 are still being compiled.)
"So each federal dollar of seed money generated about $1.70 in documented cash and in-kind services," says Buckingham, adding that the nonprofit's programs reached 22 of Utah's 29 counties through 374 events that year, including the month-long Utah Book Festival. Another high-profile program is its Smithsonian "Museum on Main Street," which has supported eight exhibitions and toured 41 towns, while attracting more than 250,000 Utah viewers, according to the agency.
Dianne Harris Speaks Out in Support of the Humanities and the NEH
Dianne Harris, Dean of dean of the College of Humanities, professor of history at the University of Utah, and Utah Humanities board member speaks out on behalf of the humanities and the NEH in a powerful Op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune.
"The events of recent months have raised anew an old set of questions: What does it mean to be an American? How do we define freedom and democracy? How do we discern fact from fabrication? We cannot answer these questions without engaging the humanities. Truly, the humanities shine in tumultuous times because they provide us with the tools we need to skillfully evaluate, understand and navigate our complex world. We need the humanities now, more than ever.
The Hill Announces Potential Budget Cuts
In addition, The Hill (a top US political website) published news about budget cuts that are expected to be proposed by the new administration, including eliminating federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR). Read the article here.
This pie chart from a Washington Post article places the potential budget cuts into perspective. If the administration wants to cut out $1.05 trillion annually (divvying up that $10.5 trillion number), ending funding for these three programs only gets you 0.074 percent of the way there --that tiny line is the "slice."
This is a first step in a long process, but we want all friends of Utah Humanities to be aware of this threat and prepared to defend us by contacting members of Congress to defeat this proposal.
We will keep you informed and will be calling on you at key times to lend your voices.
In the meantime, this simple form from the National Humanities Alliance allows you to send a quick message to your representatives to register your support of the humanities.
What Are The Humanities and Why Are They Relevant?
To adapt to a changing world, we need new software for our computers and cell phones; but we also need new ideas—and new understanding of old ideas. While technology can make our lives easier, the humanities have the power to make our lives better.
Through technology we are now connected to the far reaches of the planet, but without the study of history, religion, languages, philosophy, and culture we will never understand those we reach. And to be truly connected, we need the inspiration and understandings of novels, plays and poems, art, drama, and music. We need the insights from history to make sense of our present, the reasoning of philosophy to think through the ethical dilemmas our huge leaps in technology are bringing about.
In addition to being improved through technology, our communities can be strengthened and advanced through the humanities. We can progress together by putting compelling ideas into action and by constantly, actively exploring what it means to be human.