Update, March 23, 2020: Yesterday afternoon, Republican leadership in the Senate released a draft stimulus bill that included only $100 million in spending for the NEH (and an equal amount for the NEA). Later that afternoon, negotiations on that draft bill broke down due to a range of bigger differences, and a vote on a Senate bill has been postponed as negotiations continue. Meanwhile, the House is beginning to draft its own bill rather than waiting to respond to the Senate bill. We expect the House to release its bill later today.
Additionally, last night Reps. David Price and Chellie Pingree sent a letter to House leadership requesting $500 million in stimulus funding for the NEH. Please join Reps. Price and Pingree and take action to let your Members of Congress know you support stimulus funding for the NEH.
We are looking forward to kicking off this year’s NHA Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day with a deep dive into undergraduate recruitment strategies. We’ll begin by sharing what we learned about recruitment challenges at nearly 300 diverse institutions through our 2019 Humanities Recruitment Survey, as well as the audiences faculty and administrators are engaging with to overcome these challenges. Next, we’ll showcase categories and subcategories of effective approaches surfaced through this research and associated outreach—including articulating career pathways, curricular innovations, and marketing strategies. Participants will work together to develop strategies after hearing leaders of noteworthy initiatives reflect upon their experiences.
Every March, we organize Humanities Advocacy Day to ensure that Members of Congress hear from their constituents about the value of federal funding for the humanities. For first time advocates, walking through the marble halls of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Hill’s largest congressional office building, can be intimidating. And meeting with your Member of Congress to ask them for millions of dollars for the National Endowment for the Humanities can be even more so.
The Mastheads, a public humanities organization in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, was founded in 2016 with a goal of connecting Pittsfield residents to the literary heritage of the region, cultivating pride in place, and supporting the production of new creative work. This mission grew out of the challenges Pittsfield has faced since General Electric, the major employer, left the region. To bring together diverse groups to celebrate Pittsfield as a site of cultural and artistic production, the organization has collaborated with a variety of community organizations—from the library to the local farmers market, to groups looking to support and improve their local neighborhoods—since its inception.
How can we build support for publicly engaged humanities work at our universities and colleges?
Before kicking off the 2019 National Humanities Conference in Honolulu, we hosted a pre-conference workshop to address this question with over 100 humanities scholars, administrators, and association leaders.
On December 11, the National Humanities Alliance partnered with Jefferson Community College (JCC) to highlight how the NEH’s Dialogues on the Experience of War programs serve veterans. The showcase-style briefing included a discussion with leaders of and participants in JCC’s 2018 program. Representatives Chellie Pingree, David Price, Elise Stefanik, and Steve Stivers served as honorary co-hosts of the event.
Earlier this week, Congress released its spending deal for FY 2020, which included a $7.25 million increase for the NEH, the largest increase we have seen in a decade. If enacted, which it is expected to be, this would bring the agency’s budget to $162.25 million.
Partnership drives many of the publicly engaged humanities initiatives collected in NHA’s Humanities for All database. These initiatives drawn from across the country bring scholars and students together with a wide variety of partners, including libraries, K–12 schools, community organizations and centers, and individual community members. In all cases, they draw on shared knowledge and resources to advance particular academic and public objectives. They are able to do more—and better—by working together.