William D Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has resigned from his post, as it emerged that the White House has told the body to submit a budget for "orderly closure" in 2018.The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has also been told to prepare a 2018 budget intended for closure, with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) set to go too.
Adams, who joined the NEH in 2014, stepped down on Tuesday (22nd May), saying: "Leading this important organization has been one of the most exciting and gratifying experiences of my life. I’m especially appreciative of the excellent and dedicated staff of the agency, who taught me so much about the importance of the humanities and the innovative and meaningful work that is going on at NEH and across the country.”
Deputy chair Margaret Plympton, who will serve as acting chair following Adams' departure, released a statement yesterday (23rd), as the Trump administration published its comprehensive budget proposal for federal government for 2018. "The White House has requested that Congress appropriate approximately $42m to NEH for the orderly closure of the agency," the statement said. "This amount includes funds to meet matching grant offers in effect as of October 1st 2017, as well as funds to cover administrative expenses and salaries associated with the closure.
"As NEH awaits Congressional action on the President’s proposed budget, the agency is continuing normal operations and will be making the next round of FY 2017 awards following the meeting of the National Council in July."
The NEA is also earmarked for closure.“The Budget proposes to begin shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts in 2018, given the notable funding support provided by private and other public sources and because the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities,” stated an administration report in the budget proposal.
This is the latest step in a tussle over the future of the agencies. At the start of the year US President Trump had proposed cutting all federal money for both the NEA and the NEH for 2018, arousing a storm of protest from high-profile authors as well as PEN America. However the White House move was rejected by Congress which voted to up the budget to $150m for each body, a $2m lift on last year.
The agencies provide grants for arts and humanities projects, which have resulted in a number of Pulitzer Prize-winning books.