Prepared Statement of Dana Gioia
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
U.S. House of Representatives
March 13, 2003
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:
I am honored to come before you for the first time to discuss the President's
2004 request for $117.480 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. This
request represents an increase of $1.749 million over our FY 2003 appropriation.
I would like to begin by thanking Eileen Mason, the Endowment's Senior Deputy
Chairman, for her capable leadership as Acting Chairman over the last year.
Under her stewardship, the agency developed a new strategic plan with a clear
mission that will move it into a new decade.
Five weeks ago I took the oath of office. I have - by anyone's reckoning - much
to learn both about the National Endowment for the Arts and the Federal
Government. I bring to the Arts Endowment a combination of idealism and
pragmatism. As a poet, I understand the necessity for vision and imagination.
The arts enlarge and enhance our humanity. They provide wisdom, consolation,
and delight in ways that are indispensable to our spiritual and intellectual
growth. As a businessman, however, I also understand the necessity of getting
things done in an effective and inclusive way. The best decisions are reached
through intelligent consensus-building in which different groups can be brought
together to achieve common goals.
The arts represent a central part of a nation's identity and legacy. The
measure of a great nation is not merely its wealth and power but also its
civilization - most notably the political and artistic ideals it creates,
promotes, and preserves. In this sense, the National Endowment for the Arts,
despite its relatively small size, represents an essential expression of
America's highest aspirations. Our artistic achievements will be one means by
which history will both know and judge us.
My first goal as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts is to provide
the focused leadership and careful management the agency needs. The Endowment
has survived a difficult period in its history. Significant changes have been
made in its size, structure, and operations. Having successfully navigated a
period of crisis and reform, the Arts Endowment now needs to begin a new phase
in its history. This renewal must begin internally at the agency itself.
Despite a strong and dedicated staff, the NEA needs to better coordinate its
many complex activities. Outdated technology and labor-intensive procedures
have inhibited the agency's productivity and efficiency. Consistent and focused
attention to our internal operations is imperative to restore the agency's full
Our second goal will be to restore the public stature and prestige of the
National Endowment for the Arts. Although the controversies that troubled the
NEA happened nearly a decade ago, they remain fresh in the public's mind. The
agency has failed to replace its old image as an embattled enterprise with a
cogent account of its new mission and many accomplishments.
The National Endowment for the Arts exists to serve all Americans. It cannot
meaningfully accomplish this goal without earning the trust and respect of the
American people. We must rebuild a national consensus for the responsible
support of the arts and arts education by demonstrating the public value of the
agency's programs. We cannot accomplish this objective without public trust and
Our third goal will be to demonstrate the Endowment's potential by creating
model programs of indisputable artistic merit and broad national reach. I have
a deep conviction that artistic excellence and democratic accessibility are not
incompatible goals. The most effective leadership the NEA can provide is by
presenting programs of the highest quality designed to reach the largest
audiences possible, especially among historically underserved constituencies.
The arts in America are lively, rich, and diverse. In a society of intellectual
specialization, however, it has been too easy for the arts to become elitist in
approach and remote from common concerns. Perhaps the NEA's greatest
opportunity is to renew and enlarge the conversation between artists and the
American public. Art without an audience is a diminished endeavor. Society
without art is an impoverished enterprise.
Our fourth goal will be to develop and promote effective models for arts
education. The role of the arts in education is widely acknowledged but not
well understood. There currently exist many disparate approaches in the field
but very little consensus as to the best ways of developing programs and
incorporating them - both in pedagogic and economic terms Æ into an already
Effective arts education is perhaps the most important long-term issue and
opportunity facing the arts world - the fostering of a new generation of
artists, audiences, and patrons. Since the task of developing specific arts
curricula is the responsibility of state and local governments, the Endowment
has an important role in providing informed leadership, especially in
determining and recommending effective teaching methods. Through careful
research and development, working in partnership with the Department of
Education, the Endowment intends to provide model programs and guidance to
teachers, parents, school boards, and districts.
Finally, the National Endowment for the Arts must reclaim its leadership role in
American culture. It must enter a new era, confident of its civic
responsibilities in a society overwhelmed by commercialized electronic mass
entertainment. The NEA must enlarge the conversation of American public life to
include the arts. It must promote, preserve, and celebrate the best of our
culture, old and new, classic and contemporary. It must reacquaint America with
its own best self. Nothing less is worthy of our nation.
Our Fiscal Year 2004 budget request contains the following key elements:
Artistic Creativity and Preservation
We request $30,200,000 to support approximately 1,100 projects across every
state that involve the creation, presentation, or preservation of works of art
of acknowledged excellence. We will support performances of opera, chamber
music, symphony, theater, dance, jazz, and folk arts. We will support
exhibitions in museums and community centers, large and small. And with a
separate budget of $4.5 million we will present our nation's best performing
artists on television, radio and film.
The NEA supports artistic creativity with programs like the FY 2002 grant to
commission new works by American composers in celebration of the legacy of
Wilbur and Orville Wright, awarded to a consortium of the Dayton Philharmonic of
Ohio, the North Carolina Symphony of Raleigh, and the Evansville Philharmonic in
Indiana. The works will be performed in these three states beginning in May.
Meanwhile, the Endowment is also preserving America's rich heritage with grants
to archive a major Native American basket collection in Laurel, Mississippi, to
assist the Sacred Trust in Philadelphia to provide curatorial expertise to
clergy and lay leaders responsible for historic properties, to assist the
Calista Elders Council in Alaska to support the revitalization of traditional
celebrations, and to present a history of Kentucky's women playwrights in
We also want to bring more recognition to our nation's great artists by
highlighting the Endowment's annual awards, especially to Jazz Masters and Folk
and Traditional artists. We intend to highlight the importance of the National
Medal of Arts, the U.S. Government's highest honor for creativity. This
national honor is too little known and deserves to be better celebrated. We
will also provide national recognition to creative writers, poets, and
translators through individual support of their works.
Learning In The Arts
To advance learning in the arts we are requesting $11,350,000 to support
approximately 450 projects that provide skill development in the arts for
children and youth from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The arts stimulate
imagination, engage the intellect, foster discipline, produce physical skills,
and enhance curiosity and joy. Without instruction and experience in the arts,
no child's education is complete.
In concert with the Department of Education, we plan to work with educators and
arts groups to promote model programs that can be adopted by local school
boards, principals, and parents. It is important that our children develop
skills in music, art, dance, theater, and writing, and have the opportunity to
witness great art performed by accomplished artists, view original works of
outstanding art, and be enriched by reading and reciting poetry.
We are requesting $17,000,000 to make the arts more widely available in
communities in every state through the Challenge America Program. We are
committed to providing the best of the arts and arts education to all Americans,
including those in underserved communities in small and mid-sized rural towns,
urban communities, and military bases. We will support programs that include
individuals with disabilities. We will also broaden access to the arts by
supporting projects that provide the best of American culture on radio and
A recently funded project honors the Corps of Discovery. Three Lewis and Clark
bicentennial committees in the Washington State Counties of Asotin, Vancouver,
and Pacific received Challenge America grants to commission Maya Lin, architect
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to design art works to be situated at four
prominent sites along the Columbia River visited by Lewis and Clark.
The Endowment will continue its dedication to Challenge America's dual goals of
artistic excellence and extensive outreach by launching the largest theatrical
tour of Shakespeare in American history. Beginning in September 2003, at least
six American theater companies will tour professional productions of Shakespeare
to more than 100 small and mid-sized communities in all 50 states. This major
initiative is intended to make professional theater a vital part of the cultural
environment of smaller communities. Thousands of Americans will experience
Shakespeare in local theaters and schools, as well as on military bases and in
Native American communities.
The Endowment's Shakespeare in American Communities initiative, which will be
done in partnership with Arts Midwest, a regional arts organization, will not
only celebrate the works of our language's greatest playwright, but also revive
a great American theatrical tradition dating back to the early days of the
Republic. We will integrate Shakespeare into our arts education program to
reach middle and high school students in all communities visited by these
touring companies. This ambitious program exemplifies the agency's commitment
to artistic excellence, public outreach, and arts education.
We request $38,214,000 for partnerships with State Arts Agencies, regional art
organizations and with other public and private organizations. Much that the
Arts Endowment does is achieved through partnerships. Partnerships with the
States are a major component of the Arts Endowment's grant-making activity.
Forty percent of the Endowment's funds will go to State Arts Agencies and
Regional Art Organizations on a matching basis. To streamline the process, the
Arts Endowment now reviews Arts Plans on three-year cycles.
The NEA works with other public and private partners to support projects and
activities of mutual interest in arts education, rural arts development, and
public arts projects. The NEA cooperates with the Department of State in
supporting a variety of international arts activities and cultural exchanges.
Last Spring the Arts Endowment and the Appalachian Regional Commission supported
a conference on the topic of arts entrepreneurship and sustainable development
in Asheville, North Carolina. Chairman Taylor spoke at this conference about
the impact of mountain arts, crafts, and music in attracting new business and
tourist dollars to the local economies of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Arts Endowment pledges to achieve its mission through the effective,
efficient, and responsible management of resources. Our new Management Goal
addresses internal operations and interaction with the public. In conjunction
with our revised Strategic Plan, we have undertaken a review of business
processes to better employ our resources and capacity to achieve desired plans
The nature of our existing programs challenges our ability to employ our current
resources more efficiently to administer a growing number of applications for
support. In the last five years (FY 1997-2002), the number of applications
received annually by the NEA increased 70 percent from 3,300 to 5,600. During
the same period, the number of annual grants awarded nearly doubled from 1,100
to 2,200. This increased workload was administered by the same number of staff.
We cannot award larger grants or eliminate categories of grants without
jeopardizing our goal of broadening national coverage in every state and
Congressional district. We will, however, seek to develop more efficient ways,
especially through technology, of administering our growing workload to serve
all Americans. The FY 2004 request provides funding to implement changes in
our information technology systems in response to the Administration's
E-Grant/E-Gov initiatives and our current Business Process Review.
The Endowment is entering a positive new era in its history. We thank the
Congress for its continued support of our programs. We pledge to work openly
and responsibly with you to rebuild this important American institution. The
National Endowment for the Arts deserves to be an agency in which all Americans
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