In an offical proclamation, President Biden on September 30 designated October 2022 as National Arts and Humanities Month—and in an accompanying Executive Order, the administration revived the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) “to inform and support the national engagement with Americans necessary to advance the arts, the humanities, and museum and library services."
The PCAH was first established by President Ronald Reagan in a 1982 Executive Order, to be made up of private citizens and public servants who “demonstrated commitment to the arts and humanities.” In August 2017, the committee collapsed after a mass resignation in protest of President Donald Trump's response to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The Trump Administration let authority for the committee lapse a month later.
The re-established committee will advise President Biden and the heads of the three major U.S. cultural agencies—the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—on “policy objectives, philanthropic and private sector engagement, and other efforts to enhance federal support for the arts, the humanities, and museum and library services.” The order also directs “enhanced cooperation and partnership among agencies across the Federal government with IMLS, NEA, and NEH to advance “equity, accessibility, and opportunities” for all Americans.
“IMLS is honored to be part of this Executive Order and the newly re-launched President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities as we look to build partnerships to advance this initiative over the coming years,” said Crosby Kemper, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, in a statement. “The creativity and inspiration artists, authors, and philosophers provide lead us to fuller, richer experiences. As two of the most trusted institutions, libraries and museums provide access that allows us to engage with the arts, humanities, and diverse cultures to bring about a more informed and engaged society.”
In her statement, Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts added that the Biden Administration’s order “offers a moment to reflect on the value that arts and culture” bring to our lives and communities. “This is an extraordinary moment for the arts and humanities with this whole-of-government approach that will be integral to advancing the health, economy, equity, and democracy of the nation. We are thrilled to work with this committee, and we are grateful to the President for his vision.”
Shelly C. Lowe, Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, echoed those sentiments. “ “This executive order will elevate the humanities and help American communities reach their full potential through engagement with history, literature, languages, and cultural heritage,” Lowe said, in release.
Under President Biden’s new Executive Order, the PCAH will be composed of the director of IMLS, the chairs of NEA and NEH, and “up to 25 non-federal leaders in the arts, humanities, and museum and library services. Funding and administrative support for the committee will be provided through the IMLS.