MSU marks 50 years of National Endowments for the Arts, Humanities

Oct 21, 2015

This week, Michigan State University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with the deputy chairperson of the NEH, Margaret “Peggy” Plympton, about their mission.

Peggy Plympton is deputy chairperson of the NEH.
Credit Courtesy photo / National Endowment for the Humanities

This year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities jointly turn 50 years old. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation creating both organizations in 1965. On Friday, Michigan State University will celebrate the occasion with an event at the Wharton Center.

Current State's Scott Pohl talks with Margaret Plympton, the deputy chair of the NEH. She will speak at the MSU event on Friday.

 The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) have always been interrelated The original founding legislation actually had language in it. For example, our arts and humanities belong to all of the people of the U.S., so it has always been considered that the two of them are linked programmatically and linked in terms of their importance to the United States and to the lives we all live. The NEH has consistently given grants to individuals, to institutions and entered into various funding relationships included with state humanities councils. NEA also gives grants to institutions though they no longer give grants to individuals. 

 Funding for the NEA affects funding for the NEH
 Because of the way our two agencies are closely related in the founding legislation and the subsequent amendments, we are affected. Each of us is affected whenever either of us is affected in terms of the funding level. Our funding level has not dropped around specific programs but our funding has gone up and down in the last 50 years at various points. 
 Where does the funding come from?

  Since 1965, NEH has made more than 63,000 grants, which has totaled about $5.3 billion of awards. That has then been leveraged by recipients to bring in additional $2.5 billion in privately funded matching grants. By receiving support from the NEH, those recipients have then been able to go out and raise private funds from other sponsors to further support their projects.