Today, we received this message from the leadership of the Shakespeare Association of America. It's intended for the Shakespeare theatre members of SAA, but has farther reaching implications so we felt it was important to share on our blog and elsewhere.
American members of the SAA have the chance to make a difference today.
The Trump administration has released its budget priorities, recommending elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Education's Title VI International Education Programs, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Groups such as the National Coalition for History and the National Humanities Alliance are analyzing the foreseeable impacts on such other agencies as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institutions, and the National Archives. The effects on all who benefit from the work of these organizations are incalculable. So are the consequences for our own scholarship and teaching.
The budget put out by the Executive branch is advisory to the Legislative branch of the US government. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will develop their own budgets and will draft legislation that sets final funding levels for all the programs listed above. Both of these committees have recently expressed strong support for the NEH. But Congress will have to resist the Executive priorities if it is to save the NEH and other humanities, arts, and education programs.
Now is the time for American citizens to contact their Congress members and to provide them with the motivation to resist. Even if you know your representatives to be supportive, they need to be able to document support during Congressional deliberations.
1. Phone calls are most effective, especially if the message you leave is short, personal, and focused. All members of Congress can be reached via the US Capitol switchboard, at 202.224.3121.
2. E-mails are also useful; again, individual messaging and brevity are virtues. At www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, links to individual offices are accessed via zip code searches.
3. Another avenue for making your voice heard on the NEH in particular is via the website of the National Humanities Alliance.
Click here to urge your Members of Congress to oppose these proposals.
Please be aware that this will not be the last call for your help. The budget process has many stages, and we will continue to receive cues for action.
Julia Reinhard Lupton
Shakespeare Association of America
37th & O Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20057-1131