In early March, a group of PHC staff and board members traveled to Washington for Humanities on the Hill, an annual opportunity to meet with members of Congress and make a persuasive case for the value and impact of the humanities. In large part the goal of this national event is to advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities—and in turn for state humanities councils like PHC.
The current National Endowment for the Humanities budget request is $155 million, including $46 million for state humanities councils. This funding is crucial for PHC, which receives no annual support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Humanities on the Hill offers the chance to describe the incredible impact of the humanities in Pennsylvania, and to request the resources we need to sustain our work,” said PHC executive director Laurie Zierer. “PHC raises additional program support from state and federal agencies, private foundations, corporations, and individuals, but NEH funding is our lifeblood.”
Zierer was joined in Washington by PHC staff members Mary Ellen Burd, Imahni Ellison, and Donna Scheuerle and PHC board members Silas Chamberlin, Ronald R. Cowell, and John Schlimm. In conversations with 19 members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation or their staffers, the PHC team chronicled the role the humanities play in educating citizens and strengthening communities in Pennsylvania, highlighting PHC’s Teen Reading Lounge, Civic Engagement communities, and partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Veterans Upward Bound program.
They also reported on the humanities’ economic impact. Pennsylvania’s 4,045 humanities organizations—from libraries and historical societies to museums and community arts and culture groups—together generate $1.5 billion in revenue annually. They are a key driver of tourism, an industry that accounts for $39.2 billion in annual visitor spending statewide. In addition Pennsylvania is home to 129 accredited liberal arts schools. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of liberal arts professionals working in Pennsylvania increased 42%.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has provided more than 186 grants, totaling $22.8 million, to Pennsylvania cultural organizations over the past five years. The NEH also provides dedicated state funding, which allows PHC to fund additional programs in Pennsylvania.
“We leverage a matching dollar for every federal dollar we receive,” Zierer said. “Through building strong partnerships across sectors and working collaboratively with other funders, we ensure that the NEH is making a sound investment in Pennsylvania.”
Please contact your elected officials today to describe the impact of the humanities in your community and advocate for NEH and PHC funding!