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A Call to Restore the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities


Today Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), David Price (D-NC), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) led 15 Members of the House in calling on President Joe Biden to restore the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) via Executive Order.

The PCAH has historically advised the President, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and other federal agencies on ways to coordinate support for the cultural sector and for arts and humanities education. President Ronald Reagan established the Committee in 1982 and it enjoyed bipartisan support until it was allowed to expire in 2017. In a recent report, experts from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Commission on the Arts recommend reestablishing the PCAH as an essential forum to coordinate federal leadership on humanities and, in particular, arts education.

“At a time when our nation is both recovering from the effects of the pandemic and experiencing deep divides, engagement with the arts and our history can play an important role in helping us heal,” the Members of Congress wrote. “Reinvigorating our civic education and supporting American excellence in the arts can and must be a part of your efforts to unify our country. Reconvening the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities by an Executive Order would be a further recognition of the critical role artists, scholars, historians, philosophers, and the creative economy as a whole play in our nation.”

The members noted that the coronavirus pandemic devastated the creative economy, with more than 2 million jobs and $150 billion in goods and services lost from creative industries at the peak of the pandemic. There has also been significant decline in arts and humanities education, which has disproportionately limited access for Black and Latinx students.

In addition to Bonamici, Price, and Pingree, the letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC), Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Nikema Williams (D-GA).

The full letter can be found here.

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Commission on the Arts

John A. Lithgow, Deborah F. Rutter, and Natasha D. Trethewey