Recent Executive Order on the Arts

October 06, 2022
From: Pam Breaux, NASAA President and CEO
Vol. 22:07

Last week the Biden-Harris administration released an Executive Order on Promoting the Arts, the Humanities, and Museum and Library Services. This executive order is notable in its unequivocal assertion that the arts are “essential to the well-being, health, vitality, and democracy of our nation” and that “equity, accessibility, and opportunities for all Americans, particularly in underserved communities” are key ingredients of cultural vitality. In addition to an elegant articulation of the value of the arts, culture and humanities, the order advances two federal policy actions:

  1. Reinstating the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH): Originally established under President Regan in 1982, the PCAH was sustained by administrations of both parties until it disbanded and its authorization lapsed in 2017. The committee now has been reconstituted to operate within the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The heads of the federal cultural agencies will hold voting seats on the committee along with up to 25 yet-to-be-named presidential appointees. The PCAH will advise the White House and the federal cultural agencies on matters pertinent to the administration’s cultural policy goals and promote private and philanthropic support for the arts, humanities, museums and libraries.
  2. Interagency collaborations: The September 30 executive order also affirms the administration’s intent to integrate the arts into multiple aspects of federal policy. It directs the leaders of 25 federal agencies and boards—ranging from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Transportation and Interior—to “advise, coordinate with, and consider undertaking joint projects and initiatives with” the federal cultural agencies.

NASAA joins the National Endowment for the Arts and other arts leaders in applauding these efforts to elevate and integrate the arts. As noted in NASAA’s federal policy plank (Strengthening America through Arts and Creativity: A Federal Policy Agenda), creative collaborations represent an especially powerful opportunity to strengthen policy formulation and program design across many domains, including economic development, community development, education, health/rehabilitation, rural development, infrastructure and diplomacy.

NASAA will keep members apprised of future developments.