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. The goal of this national event is to advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—and in turn for state humanities councils like PHC.
The FY2019 NEH budget request is $155 million, including $48 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 Bryan Clark and Jen Danifo and PHC board members Ronald Cowell, Christina Saler, and JJ Sheffer. In conversations with 18 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, Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Communities, the Chester Made initiative and our partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Veterans Upward Bound program.
The group also reported on the humanities’ economic impact. Pennsylvania’s 4,500 humanities organizations—from libraries and historical societies to museums and community arts and culture groups—together generate $1.6 billion in revenue annually. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of liberal arts professionals working in Pennsylvania increased 42%.
The strength of the humanities sector in Pennsylvania, and the impact it has on local residents, is due in large part to consistently strong federal funding. The National Endowment for the Humanities provided $23.9 million in grants in Pennsylvania over the past five years. PHC invested an additional $1.3 million and leveraged 150 partnerships to keep the humanities strong.
“We leverage $5.60 for every federal dollar we receive,” Zierer said. “Through building strong partnerships across sectors and working collaboratively with other funders, we ensure that NEH is making a sound investment in Pennsylvania.”
For the second year in a row, President Trump’s budget proposal requests elimination of NEH and other federal cultural agencies, which would put PHC's work and the entire humanities sector in jeopardy. Please contact your elected officials today to describe the impact of the humanities in your community and to advocate for strong NEH and PHC funding!