Fall 2021 Bulletin: Annual Report

The Humanities, Arts & Culture


While the Academy focused most of its early efforts on the natural and physical sciences, in recent years the organization has taken a more active role in studying and promoting humanities, arts, and culture in American society. Through its commissions, publications, and projects, the Academy conducts research and develops policy recommendations to advance the arts and humanities in American life, and seeks opportunities to enrich the nation’s cultural life. The unique convening power of the Academy brings together scholars, artists, and leaders from the public and private sectors to demonstrate their vital role in the life of the nation, and to articulate how the country might better support activities in this area.

Program Advisory Committee


Johanna Drucker
University of California, Los Angeles


Richard Brodhead
Duke University

Colin Dayan
Vanderbilt University

Thomas Gunning
University of Chicago

Maria Hummer-Tuttle
The J. Paul Getty Trust

Jacqueline Jones
University of Texas at Austin

Mary C. Kelley
University of Michigan

Jane Dammen McAuliffe
Library of Congress

Jahan Ramazani
University of Virginia

Oscar Tang
New York, New York

Pauline Yu
American Council of Learned Societies


Commission on the Arts

commission on the arts

The Commission on the Arts seeks to reframe the national conversation about the role the arts can play in a diverse twenty-first-century democracy. The national focus of the project is reflected in the composition of its membership, which spans the cultural field and the geography of the United States; its members represent over a dozen states and more than forty organizations and disciplines.

This group of artists, scholars, institutional leaders, and community advocates is guided by the common belief that the arts are essential to well-being. With this variety of perspectives, the Commission has been examining the funding mechanisms, policies, and narratives that currently govern the vast creative field.

Arts and culture are essential for their ability to bridge divides and foster community. The Commission seeks both to strengthen the impact and reach of creative work and encourage better support mechanisms for the artists and creatives whose labor and vision make that work possible.

Through reports, recommendations, and public engagement initiatives the Commission is offering a framework for how the arts can be better integrated and appreciated in public life. The first report, Art for Life’s Sake: The Case for Arts Education, examines existing inequities and presents recommendations to make arts a core part of every student’s education. A second report, Art Is Work: Policies to Support Creative Workers, identifies the needs of artists as workers and outlines a series of recommendations for federal and state policies that can provide long-term workforce development and job opportunities for cultural workers. In addition to these policy-oriented reports, the Commission is developing public engagement activities that include a crowd-sourced poem curated by Commission cochair Natasha Trethewey called “Remix: For My People,” which was co-produced as part of PBS’s American Portrait initiative. Each element of the Commission seeks, within its given topic area, to uplift the necessity of art in daily life, both personally and collectively.


John Lithgow
Actor and Author

Deborah F. Rutter
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Natasha Trethewey
Northwestern University



The Barr Foundation

Ford Foundation

The Getty Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Kresge Foundation

Roger W. and Victoria P.† Sant


Commission Publications

Art for Life’s Sake: The Case for Arts Education (2021)

Art Is Work: Policies to Support Creative Workers (2021)


The Humanities Indicators

Humanities Indicators

The Humanities Indicators provide nonpartisan statistical information about all aspects of the humanities: ranging from early childhood reading, through undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, and on to employment and humanities experiences in daily life, such as book reading and visits to museums. Now in its twelfth year as a publicly available website, the project tracks the condition of the humanities enterprise via its own rigorous survey research and analyses of data gathered by the federal government.

Recent work has included a survey of five thousand Americans about their engagement with and attitudes toward the humanities, as well as updates to the project’s widely cited analyses on the employment status, earnings, and occupations of humanities majors. The Humanities Indicators are accessible at www.amacad.org/humanities-indicators.


Norman M. Bradburn
NORC at the University of Chicago

Robert B. Townsend
American Academy of Arts and Sciences



The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The project was developed with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Elihu Rose and the Madison Charitable Fund; John P. Birkelund; Peck Stackpoole Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation; Sara Lee Foundation; Teagle Foundation; Walter B. Hewlett and the William R. Hewlett Trust; and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Project Publications

The Indicators staff publishes regular online updates to the content. Over the past year, these updates included new findings on the occupations and earnings of college graduates, charitable giving to the humanities, and public libraries. The project also produced the following research reports:

The Humanities in American Life: Insights from a Survey of the Public’s Attitudes & Engagement (2020)

The Humanities in American Life: At a Glance: Insights from a Survey of the Public’s Attitudes & Engagement (2020)

Home with the Humanities: American Engagement During the Pandemic (2020)

The State of the Humanities in Four-Year Colleges and Universities: A Summary of Findings (2020)

State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond (2021)