I Heart the Arts

At the end of 2016, after the deaths of two writing colleagues, I wrote this:

Countries fall. Empires crumble. Buildings tumble down, and monuments wear away. People come, they go, they die. Only stories and dance and music and drama—only ART—remains in the world forever. Art is not required to be embodied by a physical thing. As long as we can move, sing, speak, act, and remember, we can pass along who we were, who we are, who we hope to be. Art is the ephemera that will last forever.

Art matters. Unfortunately, from time to time, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities come under attack for….well, simply existing. It is rumored that these agencies are about to be attacked again.

Today I will write about the NEA. Tomorrow, I will write about the NEH.

As an artist who has benefited from grant programming, of course I want to show my support and explain why arts, culture, and history matter to the world. I also run an arts-based business, so I have a very engaged and practical dog in this fight: I want to protect my livelihood. I want to save my job. Agencies like the Delaware Division of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts provide opportunities for artists and mentor the growth of young and emerging artists.

Here is the mission statement of the National Endowment for the Arts:

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

And to learn about its history:

On September 29, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, creating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. To celebrate the agency’s 50th anniversary, we created this web section to highlight how the NEA has helped nurture the arts in the country and made it accessible to all Americans.

My own arts story is shared on the United States of Arts map. The red poster on my About page was created by the NEA to promote its 50th Anniversary celebration.

Please join me in supporting the National Endowment for the Arts. Contact your elected officials to let them know that art, history, and culture matter to you.

Yesterday, I went on a poster-making binge. If you’d like to save and share any of these posters to make your support public, please do:

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The United States of Arts

NEA 50 years

Happy Birthday, NEA!

50 years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, which created the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. These two independent federal agencies fund, promote, educate, and encourage communities to provide creative opportunities for projects and people devoted to our nation’s arts and humanities.

To celebrate its 50th birthday, the NEA invited artists throughout the country to share how their lives have been enriched by art. The interactive map United States of Arts shares those stories. I’m pleased to represent Delaware with Senator Chris Coons. Click on Delaware’s little icon (you can find it a little to the right of DC’s star) to see his video and read my story, or go directly to my page.

The NEA is the largest annual national funder of the arts in the country, and its support is granted to individual artists as well as through partnerships with states, arts agencies, and public and private organizations. The NEA’s grants promote dance, translation, visual arts, literature, music, opera, theatre, and media arts. Special initiatives include Poetry Out Loud and Blue Star Museums.

After I submitted my arts story for consideration, the NEA created the cool poster below using my opening quote. It was shared on social media, and I am sharing it here. I am honored and thrilled to appear on the United States of Arts map and to have a public opportunity to thank the NEA and the agencies it support for their encouragement and help. It is most appreciated.

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Tell Your Arts Story

RamonaGravitarIn 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, and so created two agencies dedicated to the development and preservation of arts, culture, and history in the U.S.

On September 29, 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will celebrate their 50th birthdays. If you are an artist or historian, you are invited to be part of this celebration.

The NEA has issued an invitation to artists to share how art influences and inspires you, your family, your community. The project is called Tell Us Your Story. You can submit an essay, audio, video, and photos. In September, the NEA will begin posting stories on their website. Continue reading “Tell Your Arts Story”