2019 Projects, Publications, and Meetings of the Academy

The Humanities, Arts, and Culture

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Since 1780, the Academy has advocated for the importance of the humanities, arts, and culture in American society, and has called on both private citizens and the nation’s government to help foster advances in these areas.

Today, the Academy conducts research and develops policy recommendations to advance the humanities in academic scholarship and in the public sector, to display the importance of the arts in society, and to enrich the nation’s cultural life. By bringing together scholars, artists, and leaders from both the public and private sectors, Academy programs in The Humanities, Arts, and Culture put practitioners and scholars in conversation with individuals from other disciplines, ensuring that the arts and humanities are valued in all areas of civic life. Projects in this area demonstrate the value of the arts, humanities, and culture to the nation’s security and prosperity, and call attention to the role played by work in these fields to enriching the health of communities and the daily lives of its citizens.


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, NY

Pauline Yu
American Council of Learned Societies




Commission on the Arts

The Commission on the Arts brings together artists, arts leaders, philanthropists, educators, and scholars from around the country to reframe the national conversation about what role the arts can play in a diverse twenty-first-century democracy. The mandate for the Commission is animated by several key questions: How can the arts help connect individuals and communities? How can the arts and artists help bridge divides within society? What role do the arts play in helping individuals make meaning in their daily lives? How can the arts contribute to important national conversations? The Commission’s final report will include recommendations that are focused at the local, state, and regional levels that will help arts advocates, educators, artists, and government officials to refocus the national conversation on the arts around common issues.


John Lithgow

Deborah Rutter
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Natasha Trethewey
Northwestern University


Diane Ackerman
Ithaca, NY

Elizabeth Alexander
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Maribel Alvarez
The University of Arizona

Rod Bigelow
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Terence Blanchard
Jazz Trumpeter and Composer

Mary V. Bordeaux
First Peoples Fund

Pam Breaux
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Jeffrey Brown
PBS NewsHour

Louise Henry Bryson
The J. Paul Getty Trust

Francis Sellers Collins
National Institutes of Health

James Cuno
The J. Paul Getty Trust

Paul J. DiMaggio
New York University

Oskar Eustis
The Public Theater

Katherine Farley
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Theaster Gates, Jr.
Rebuild Foundation

Paula J. Giddings
Smith College

Vijay Gupta
Street Symphony

Edward Hirsch
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Vicky Holt Takamine
Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima

Maria D. Hummer-Tuttle
The J. Paul Getty Trust

Gish Jen
Cambridge, MA

Tania León
Brooklyn College; The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Robert L. Lynch
Americans for the Arts

Sonia Manzano
Actress; Author

Mike O’Bryan
The Village of Arts and Humanities

Felix Padrón
Arts Management Professional; Artist

Annise Parker
former Mayor of Houston

Mwalim (Morgan James Peters)
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Victoria Rogers
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jacqueline Stewart
University of Chicago

Yancey Strickler

Roberta Uno
Arts in a Changing America

Zannie Voss
Southern Methodist University National Center for Arts Research

Carrie Mae Weems
New York, NY

Ellen Winner
Boston College

Damian Woetzel
The Juilliard School

Jay Jie Xu
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Laura Zabel
Springboard for the Arts


Paul Erickson

Gabriela Farrell

Allentza Michel


Barr Foundation

The Ford Foundation

The Getty Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Kresge Foundation

David Rockefeller, Jr.

Roger and Victoria Sant

Commission Cochair John Lithgow (Actor) and Commission member Felix Padrón (Arts Management Professional; Artist) report on their breakout group discussion at the Commission’s first meeting.


Project Meetings


Meeting of the Commission

January 15–16, 2019
House of the Academy
Cambridge, MA

The first meeting of the Commission on the Arts provided an opportunity for the Chairs and Commissioners to become acquainted with each other and to discuss what their individual goals are for the work of the Commission. The group established priority areas of interest for the Commission going forward, including the role of the arts in civic engagement; arts education; the current state of and future prospects for arts funding; the role of the arts in everyday life; and the arts and community and economic development.


John Lithgow

Deborah Rutter
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Natasha Trethewey
Northwestern University


“Music and the Mind” Webinar

May 2, 2019

To illustrate the potential of cross-disciplinary research in the arts, the Commission organized a webinar focusing on the groundbreaking Sound Health project. Sound Health is a collaborative partnership between the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and National Institutes of Health, in association with the National Endowment for the Arts, to discuss the current landscape of research on the interaction of music and the brain. The project brings together neuroscientists, music therapists, and supporters of biomedical research and the arts to explore the connections between health, wellness, and music.


Deborah Rutter
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts


Francis Collins
National Institutes of Health

Renée Fleming

Sunil Iyengar
National Endowment for the Arts


Meeting of the Commission

June 6–7, 2019
Scandinavia House
New York, NY

The second meeting of the Commission provided the opportunity for Commissioners to discuss with their working groups key areas of interest, needs for future research, and outreach opportunities in the Commission’s four main thematic strands of work. The Commission also discussed plans for a coordinated media campaign designed to reach key groups, as well as the general public.


John Lithgow

Deborah Rutter
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Natasha Trethewey
Northwestern University




The Humanities Indicators

The Humanities Indicators are now in their twentieth year as a project of the Academy, and tenth year as a public website and resource. The Indicators provide information about all aspects of the humanities: ranging from early childhood reading, to undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, to employment and experiences later in life with museums and other humanistic activities. The Indicators were originally conceived and developed as a counterpart to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators. Recent work has included updates to existing Indicators on the website; a published report on humanities majors in the workforce, and a collection of one-pagers in the Humanities in Our Lives series; grant-funded projects, including a survey of the general public, the National Inventory of Humanities Organizations, and a third iteration of the department surveys; and general promotional activities and outreach to new audiences. The Humanities Indicators are accessible at www.humanitiesindicators.org.


Norman M. Bradburn
NORC at the University of Chicago


Jack Buckley
American Institutes for Research

Jonathan R. Cole
Columbia University

John Dichtl
American Association for State and Local History

Ronald G. Ehrenberg
Cornell University

Michael Hout
New York University

Felice J. Levine
American Educational Research Association

Esther Mackintosh
Federation of State Humanities Councils

Judith Tanur
Stony Brook University

Steven Wheatley
American Council of Learned Societies, emeritus


Paul Erickson

Carolyn Fuqua

John Garnett

Robert B. Townsend


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

National Endowment for the Humanities


Project Meeting


Advisory Committee Meeting

January 11, 2019
Washington, D.C.

The annual meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Humanities Indicators Project reviewed the previous year’s updates and publications and discussed plans for upcoming projects, including the National Inventory of Humanities Organizations, the survey of the humanities in community colleges, and a third iteration of the Humanities Department Survey.


Norman M. Bradburn
NORC at the University of Chicago


Project Publications


The Humanities in Our Lives

Building on the success of an earlier infographic under the rubric of The Humanities in Our Lives, the Academy’s Humanities Indicators project released in late 2018 a new series (at http://bit.ly/HiOLseries) that couples data about the humanities with profiles of innovative programs in the field. 

The new series on The Humanities in Our Lives, developed with funding support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, takes an expansive view of the humanities, with topics ranging from early childhood reading programs to later in life visits to historic sites. This extensive focus reflects the Indicators’ holistic view of the humanities and demonstrates the wide range of subject areas across which Indicators data can be brought to bear.



Topics covered include

America’s Native Languages
Community Colleges
Degrees in the Humanities
Digital Humanities
Elementary School Readers
Historic Sites in the United States
History in the Schools
Humanities and Medicine
Humanities Jobs
Humanities Tourism
Language Learning
Learning a Second Language
Libraries as a Community Anchor
Multilingualism in Public Service
Multilingualism in the Workforce
Museum Attendance
Public Libraries
Reading for Pleasure
Reading to Young Children
The Value of Languages
U.S. Higher Ed Ethics Bowls
Writing Skills