Pingree, Bonamici, Price Lead Call to Restore Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Washington, November 30, 2021
Tags: Supporting the Arts
WASHINGTON, DC– Today Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), and David Price (D-N.C.) led 15 Members of the House in calling on President Joe Biden to restore the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) via Executive Order.
The PCAH has historically advised the President, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and other federal agencies on ways to coordinate support for the cultural sector and for arts and humanities education. President Ronald Reagan established the Committee in 1982 and it enjoyed bipartisan support until it was allowed to expire in 2017. In a recent report, experts from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Commission on the Arts recommend reestablishing the PCAH as an essential forum to coordinate federal leadership on humanities and, in particular, arts education.
“At a time when our nation is both recovering from the effects of the pandemic and experiencing deep divides, engagement with the arts and our history can play an important role in helping us heal,” the Members of Congress wrote. “…Reinvigorating our civic education and supporting American excellence in the arts can and must be a part of your efforts to unify our country. Reconvening the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities by an Executive Order would be a further recognition of the critical role artists, scholars, historians, philosophers, and the creative economy as a whole play in our nation.”
The members noted that the coronavirus pandemic devastated the creative economy, with more than 2 million jobs and $150 billion in goods and services lost from creative industries at the peak of the pandemic. There has also been significant decline in arts and humanities education, which has disproportionately limited access for Black and Latinx students.
In addition to Pingree, Bonamici, and Price, the letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-N.C.), Sanford D. Bishop (D-Ga.), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (D-N.Y.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.),Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas), and Nikema Williams (D-Ga.).
The full letter can be found here and below.
Pingree is the co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and serves as the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, where she oversees funding for the arts and humanities.
Bonamici has long been a champion for increasing access to arts and humanities education. She recently introduced the Arts Education for All Act, which will support and encourage arts education and programming for young children, K-12 students, and youth and adults involved in the justice system.
Price is chair of the bipartisan Congressional Humanities Caucus.
November 30, 2021
Dear President Biden,
Thank you for recognizing the latest National Arts and Humanities Month with your historic nominations of Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and Shelly Lowe as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. As you pursue further opportunities to restore our nation’s commitment to the arts and humanities, we urge you to reinstate the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities via Executive Order.
The arts and humanities can be powerful tools in rebuilding our civic culture and continuing to foster economic growth. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the creative economy. During the peak of the pandemic, more than 2 million jobs and $150 billion in goods and services were lost from our creative industries. We know that this critical sector can contribute up to 4.5 percent of our national GDP, and the arts and culture also serve a transformational role in our communities.
In recent years, there have been significant declines in the teaching of arts and humanities to our nation’s students. Based on data from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, student participation in humanities education at colleges and universities continues to decline. Loss of access to arts and humanities education is also a fundamental matter of equity, which is especially important to address considering how creative learning bolsters academic success. A study from the NEA shows that, since the 1980s, white students have experienced almost no decline in arts education, yet during the same period Black and Latinx students saw sharp declines of 49 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities would provide the White House, future NEH and NEA Chairs, and other related-agency leaders with the research and expert policy analysis needed to help rejuvenate arts and humanities education while also maximizing the potential of our cultural sector and creative economy. Further, this advisory committee could support related initiatives, for example, at the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration, to sustain the creative workforce and the independent venues relied on by artists.
At a time when our nation is both recovering from the effects of the pandemic and experiencing deep divides, engagement with the arts and our history can play an important role in helping us heal. The advisory committee was originally established by President Reagan and has enjoyed bipartisan support throughout its history, reinvigorating our civic education and supporting American excellence in the arts can and must be a part of your efforts to unify our country. Reconvening the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities by an Executive Order would be a further recognition of the critical role artists, scholars, historians, philosophers, and the creative economy as a whole play in our nation.
Thank you, again, for the historic commitments you have already made to arts and humanities for all Americans, and we look forward to our continued partnership in these ongoing efforts.