Last week the White House announced its budget for the coming fiscal year. That budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the parent organization of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH). For more than 45 years, NEH funds have been the backbone of the LEH, allowing us to pursue our mission of reaching every Louisianan in all 64 parishes. In Louisiana, NEH funds benefit first-graders and senior citizens, rural towns and inner cities, connecting the people of our state through our shared history and culture.
This collaboration – between NEH, LEH, and local communities – is the best example of a public-private partnership. LEH leverages every $1 from the NEH into $5 for Louisiana citizens. We cannot afford to abandon this success. Here’s why:
- When floodwaters struck 22 parishes in Louisiana in August 2016, a grant from NEH allowed the LEH to respond swiftly, providing emergency grants to 17 cultural and educational organizations in the affected regions. These funds replaced waterlogged library books, purchased drywall for damaged museums, and restored the floors in the band room at a Baton Rouge school. When Louisiana needed it most, NEH was there.
- Arts and cultural experiences should be available to all citizens, not just those who can afford them. NEH allows the LEH to support free, community-centered events like those at the Old Post Office Museum in Winnsboro, where last April the LEH-funded “Hometown Teams” exhibition attracted more than 1,200 residents. Louisiana’s culture strengthens our communities, revitalizes our main streets, and connects generations to the local history we all cherish. NEH funding strengthens these communities.
- As you read this letter, hundreds of underserved families are preparing to attend one of the 69 PRIME TIME family literacy programs across taking place in 26 Louisiana parishes this spring. Tonight, parents and children will gather together at schools and community centers to improve their chances for educational achievement. NEH funding provides access to better lives.
Today, on behalf of our board, our staff, and our partners in all 64 parishes, we ask you to contact your Congressional representative. Congress is responsible for drafting and approving the federal budget, so their understanding of NEH and LEH is vitally important.
Please let our representatives know about the impact of these programs in your area. Let them know that Louisiana’s people understand the value of our shared history and the power of families to learn and thrive. Ask them to preserve the National Endowment for the Humanities and the crucial funding it provides for Louisiana.
Click here to contact your representatives.
You’ll hear from us again in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please share this message with your friends and family, your social media networks, and your neighbors. As our nation faces new challenges, we believe that Louisiana’s culture – the most vibrant, distinctive culture in the nation – belongs to all of us. Let’s work together to support it.
Thank you for your time,