The National Endowment for the Arts
(NEA) is a United States
federally funded and donation assisted program that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress
in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. Its current chairman is the poet and former CEO Dana Gioia
and it has its offices in the Old Post Office building
, in Washington, D.C.
The NEA mission is "to enrich our Nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country." Its slogan is "Because a great country deserves great art."
Between 1965 and 2003, the agency has made in excess of 119,000 grants. Congress granted the NEA an annual funding of between US$160 and US$180 million from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. In 1996, Congress cut the NEA funding to US$99.5 million as a result of pressure from conservative groups, including the American Family Association, who criticized the agency for using tax dollars to fund highly controversial artists such as Robert Clark Young, Barbara Degenevieve, Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the so-called "NEA Four." Since 1996, the NEA has partially rebounded with a 2004 budget of US$121 million. For FY 2008, the budget is US$144.7 million.
The NEA offers grants in the three areas of: 1) Art projects, 2) Leadership initiatives, and 3) Partnership agreements.
Additionally, the NEA awards the National Heritage Fellowship and individual fellowships in literature.
- 1965-1969 Roger L. Stevens, appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson
- 1969-1977 Nancy Hanks, appointed by Richard M. Nixon
- 1977-1981 Livingston L. Biddle, Jr., appointed by Jimmy Carter
- 1981-1989 Frank Hodsoll, appointed by Ronald Reagan.
- 1989-1992 John Frohnmayer, appointed by George H. W. Bush
- 1993-1997 Jane Alexander, appointed by Bill Clinton
- 1998-2001 Bill Ivey, appointed by Bill Clinton
- 2002 Michael P. Hammond, appointed by George W. Bush
- 2003-present Dana Gioia, appointed by George W. Bush
- Alexander, Jane. Command Performance: an Actress in the Theater of Politics. Public Affairs, a member of the Perseus Book Group; New York, NY, 2000. ISBN 0306810441
- Binkiewicz, Donna M. Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-1980, University of North Carolina Press, 312pp., 2004. ISBN 0807828785.
- Napoleon, Davi. Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater This history of a theater in Brooklyn that won critical acclaim but could not always get funding to finish planned seasons is in part a case study of the arts funding crisis in America. Iowa State University Press.