Why Funding for the NEA Matters

March 17, 2017

visitors in the gallery

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. Without this support, many programs that we take for granted would not be possible.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco consider ourselves fortunate to have enjoyed consistent NEA support since the 1980s. Though not critical, the loss of NEA funding would be felt by our museums. Just this year, the Fine Arts Museums have hosted three exhibitions with NEA support: Monet: The Early Years, Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, and Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade.

An important function of the NEA is the administration of the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Program. Through this program, the Fine Arts Museums have been able to minimize the costs of insuring exhibitions, making it possible to bring masterworks from around the world to San Francisco. Without this program, it would become prohibitively expensive to borrow works from other institutions.

In addition, eliminating the NEA would dramatically impact smaller organizations by forcing them to cancel planned projects, thus causing lost income and employment for many artists and negatively impacting the arts community as a whole. State arts councils that provide grants to arts organizations throughout their states would also find themselves with a smaller funding pool, further impacting access to culture on a local and regional level.

It’s also important to note that the recently proposed budget cuts also include the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Recently, the NEH granted substantial funding to the Fine Arts Museums for our upcoming exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire. This funding is a vital portion of the budget for this important project, without which it would not be possible.

The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The Fine Arts Museums have received consistent funding from this source since 1988 for projects in conservation, facilities, education, and most recently the Artist in Residence program. An application is pending now to support education programs for Teotihuacan.

Please contact your elected officials and urge them to continue funding these agencies that play such an important role in our communities.

Max Hollein
Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco


Past exhibitions and projects to receive NEA/NEH/IMLS support include:

Teotihuacan: City of the Gods
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing
Degas and the Paris Millinery Trade
Monet: The Early Years
The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France
Ed Ruscha and the Great American West
Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia
Jewel City: Art of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free
Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
Keith Haring: The Political Line
Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House
Impressionists on the Water
Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection
Richard Diebenkorn - The Berkeley Years
Treasures of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh
Winslow Homer: Paintings of the Civil War
Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area

Artist in Residence program
Artist Fellowships
Cultural Encounters
Get SmART with Art
Support for Textiles Conservation
Support for Photography Conservation
Support for Painting Conservation
Support for Paper Conservation
Support for Publications
Support for Registration
Support for Acquisitions
Support for Endowments
Support for Digital Initiatives
Support for the new de Young
Legion of Honor Seismic Renovation
Support for the Textiles Department
Support for the Education Department
Support for the American Arts Department
Support for the Africa, Oceania and the Americas Department

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