SCUA

National Endowment for the Arts

National Arts Policy Archive and Library

National Endowment for the Arts Collection, 1965-2009.

5 boxes (7.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 686

Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

In contributing to the National Arts Policy Archive and Library (NAPAAL), the NEA allowed SCUA to digitize nearly forty years of publications on the arts and arts management. The collection reflects the impact of the arts (including music, literature, and the performing arts) on everyday lives of Americans and include materials intended to support individual and classroom education, information on arts management, reports on the status of the arts, histories of the organization, and much more. All items are cataloged in the UMass Amherst Libraries online catalog and are included in the Internet Archive, where they are available for full-text searching.

Background on the NEA

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the federal government that seeks to promote the arts and contribute to the growth and development of American culture. Over its existence, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. It extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

In his recent history of the NEA, Mark Bauerlein noted that from its inception the NEA was intended “to nurture American creativity, to elevate the nation’s culture, and to sustain and preserve the country’s many artistic traditions.” Unlike previous federal efforts to promote the arts such as the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, it was neither a response to economic crisis nor aligned with any specific social or political agenda beyond bringing art to the people of our nation and nurturing our artistic creativity.

The immediate plans for the NEA were first proposed under the administration of John F. Kennedy. In January 1963, a group of Democratic senators introduced SR165 “to establish a U.S. National Arts Foundation,” and in May, one month after August Hecksher published a seminal report on “The Arts and the National Government,” Hubert Humphrey introduced SR 1316 “to establish a National Council on the Arts and a National Arts Foundation to assist the growth and development of the arts in the U.S.” With bi-partisan support and Hecksher’s vision in place, the President’s Advisory Council on the Arts was established soon thereafter.

Delayed by the assassination of the president, the arts agency took a significant step forward on December 20, 1963, when the Senate passed SR 2379, effectively combining the two previous bills. Less than three weeks later, Rep. Frank Thompson of NJ introduced two bills into the House: HR 9586 “to provide for the establishment of a National Council on the Arts to assist in the growth and development of the arts in the U.S.” and HR 9587 “to provide for the establishment of a National Council on the Arts and a National Arts Foundation to assist in the growth and development of the arts in the United States.” HR 9586 passed in the House on Aug. 20, with the Senate agreeing on voice vote the next day, and the bull was signed into law by Pres. Johnson on Sept. 3. When signed into law, the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act stated:

“While no government can call a great artist or scholar into existence, it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to help create and sustain not only a climate encouraging freedom of thought, imagination, and inquiry, but also the material conditions facilitating the release of this creative talent.”

The impact of the NEA has been both substantial and sustained. By the year 2000, the NEA reported that it had awarded over 110,000 grants to artists and arts organizations, fueling a ten-fold growth of state and local agencies, and an increase in the number of non-profit theatre companies from 56 in 1965 to 340; symphony orchestras from 980 to 1,800, and opera companies from 27 to 113.

Contents of Collection

In contributing to the National Arts Policy Archive and Library (NAPAAL), the NEA has authorized SCUA to digitize nearly forty years of publications on the arts and arts management. The collection reflects the impact of the arts (including music, literature, and the performing arts) on the everyday lives of Americans and include materials intended to support individual and classroom education, information on arts management, and reports on the status of the arts, along with several histories of the organization. The collection has been organized into fourteen categories reflecting the programs and priorities of the NEA, and some titles cross-listed.

All titles are catalogued in the UMass Amherst Libraries online catalog and are included in the Internet Archive, where they are available for full-text searching. In late 2013, the files will be made publicly available and preserved through UMass’s online digital repository, Credo.

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Provenance

Gift of the National Endowment for the Arts, 2012-2013.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Aug. 2013.

Bibliography

For the most recent history of the NEA, see Mark Bauerline, ed., National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-2000: A History, 1965-2008 (2009).

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: National Endowment for the Arts Collection (MS 686). Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.

Subjects

  • Art and State
  • Arts--Management
  • Government aid to the arts
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