Art is a Nation’s Most Precious Heritage: A Letter from our Publisher
“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”
—President Lyndon B. Johnson, upon signing the “National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965”
As you will have heard by now, President Trump’s administration submitted its first federal budget request to Congress this week. The proposal calls for the elimination of a number of federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Here at Milkweed Editions, our publishing program is sustained by a healthy mix of revenue, including revenue from the sales of books we have published as well as support from readers like you, from private foundations, and from government agencies such as the Minnesota State Arts Board and the NEA. In fact, we have received financial support from the NEA almost every year since our founding in 1980.
Over these past several decades, NEA dollars have funded the publication of dozens of works of literature, enabling us to support the artists we publish directly, to employ staff, and to serve readers across the nation by engaging them in the kinds of conversations that are sparked uniquely by literature—conversations that inspire empathy, connect communities, and enable us to envision alternative futures.
As if the foregoing were not enough, I feel compelled to add that the dollars granted to our organization by the NEA have been a remarkably good investment. Apart from the fact that arts organizations such as ours use these grants to leverage additional support, the NEA—a relatively small agency, with an annual budget of less than $150 million—is one of the nation’s leading investors in the broader arts and culture sector, which contributes $704 billion to the U.S. economy annually, or 4.2% of our GDP. If only all federal expenditures were this productive!
I encourage you—our readers, supporters, and fellow travelers—to learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts and what it makes possible in your local community, and to consider doing what you can to promote a vibrant future for this vital agency.
Publisher & CEO