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Special House Hearing Highlights NEA and NEH Programs

posted by Christopher Howard — May 15, 2008

On May 8, 2008, a hearing was held by the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee in the House of Representatives to discuss the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). While the subcommittee has jurisdiction over NEH and NEA authorization, this was an informational hearing only.

The following individuals provided testimony on the national impact of NEH and NEA programs: Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker; Bruce Cole, NEH chairman; Dana Gioia, NEA chairman; William Glacken, mayor of Freeport, New York; Jeanne Schmedlen, director of special projects and chief of protocol office for the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Katrine Watkins, librarian at Shaler Area Intermediate School in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania; and former US Army Captain Ryan Kelly, a participant in Operation Homecoming, an NEA-sponsored program.

The panelists emphasized the importance of NEH and NEA grants to their work and asked that Congress continue to support arts and humanities programming. Testimony focused on the agency’s special initiatives, including the NEH’s We the People Bookshelf and Picturing America programs, as well as the NEA’s Mayors Institute on Urban Design and Operation Homecoming. Chairwoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) praised the NEA and NEH programs presented and identified them as essential to defining “what is America.” She also reiterated the importance of the arts and humanities to American society.

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