Trump administration 2020 budget proposal calls for elimination of National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities

Brenna Hinshaw

The Trump administration has called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the government’s 2020 budget proposal.

These federal agencies provide grants to museums, institutions and other programs to help fund the preservation of languages, historical research and artistic projects, according to their websites.

“(The National Endowment for the Humanities) and (National Endowment for the Arts) are major funders of research and public engagement projects in the humanities and arts at the University of Texas, across the state and across the nation,” said Pauline Strong, UT Humanities Institute director.

If approved, the budget would provide the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities with $29 million and $38 million respectively for the “orderly termination of all operations over two years.”


“Eliminating funding for (these organizations) would make it much more difficult for artists, curators, teachers, librarians and scholars to carry out creative work that directly impacts both UT and the general public,” Strong said.

The budget proposal awaits congressional approval.

“As National Endowment for the Humanities awaits congressional action on the president’s proposed budget, the agency is continuing normal operations and will announce our latest round of (fiscal year) 2019 awards this spring,” said Jon Parrish Peede, National Endowment for the Humanities chairman, in a statement.

Since 2009, the  National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts have awarded a total of approximately $3.5 million to organizations and researchers at UT,
according to their websites.

“The Humanities Institute (at UT) is currently benefiting from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop a digital database of health narratives from central Texas,” Strong said. “We are also participating in a grant to develop an undergraduate Bridging Disciplines certificate in the health humanities.” 

In 2018, the  National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Harry Ransom Center a $195,141 grant for a project to preserve and digitize 2,862 sound recordings of “unique interviews with noted public figures” such as Anne Sexton, William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot.

“Audio and visual recordings in particular are very susceptible to deterioration,” said Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, associate director for preservation and conservation at the Harry Ransom Center and the director of this project. “We view audio and visual recordings at the Ransom Center as one of the most endangered materials that we actually hold.”

Cunningham-Kruppa said without the grant, this project would be impossible without other significant external funding.

“We rely really heavily in the arts and humanities on our primary endowments,” Cunningham-Kruppa said. “Anything that we can do to make a case for the endowments, we have to do it.”