Endowments 101 Briefing

In recognition of National Arts and Humanities Month, the National Humanities Alliance teamed up with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and Americans for the Arts (AFTA) to host a briefing on Capitol Hill. The event was developed at the request of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, and our goal was to introduce staffers who are responsible for arts and humanities issues to the Endowments, as well as give them a brief glimpse of their impacts.

About 40 staffers attended the meeting. Kelli Ripp, director of congressional affairs at the NEA, began with an introduction to her agency, outlining the range of grants it offers and going over the proposal process. She emphasized the NEA’s impact on veterans, rural audiences, and arts-based placemaking. Peter Gordon, director of federal affairs at AFTA, followed her presentation, discussing the role AFTA plays as a voice for the arts community.

Next, we turned to the NEH. The NEH’s Director of Congressional Affairs, Tim Robison, illustrated the difference between the arts and humanities before offering a brief overview of the NEH’s funding priorities and the new “More Perfect Union” initiative. He emphasized that NEH’s program officers provide valuable feedback on applications and that congressional staff who work with NEH grantees should highlight this key resource as a way of navigating the application process. Further, he previewed the grant review process, during which grants are peer-reviewed before being recommended to the National Humanities Council, which then recommends grants to be awarded to the Chairman.

Finally, I spoke briefly about the National Humanities Alliance and our NEH for All initiative, which documents and communicates the impact of NEH funded programs. In addition to providing a brief overview of how the NEH was founded, I discussed a few points that are of particular interest to congressional staff, including the Documenting Endangered Languages program and Dialogues on the Experience of War program, the agency’s commitment to the preservation and digitization of prominent Americans’ papers, and ongoing support for emergency heritage preservation. 

All in all, the briefing served as a productive primer for the Congressional staff who were engaged by the program. We are grateful to our partners at NEH, NEA, and AFTA for helping us implement the event!

Read more: neh for all