This morning's news that the proposed federal budget includes cutting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a serious threat to the Academy of American Poets and the poets we serve.

In the weeks and months ahead we will be advocating for poets and helping to lead efforts among literary organizations to try to save this funding before October when the new budget year begins. 

Poets don't have many opportunities to be funded for their work. Fellowships like those the NEA awards are rare and can be life-changing. This year alone, the NEA awarded 37 grants totaling $925,000 to poets from 19 different states. Current and previous recipients of NEA Literature Fellowships are tagged on

The Academy of American Poets, which has worked with both the NEA and NEH for many decades, relies on funding from these agencies to make, National Poetry Month, and our K-12 education program possible. In our own work alone, these programs reach more than 20 million readers each year.

Federal funding for the arts and humanities underwrites scores of other nonprofit poetry organizations and publishers, arts education programs, libraries, and archives, as well as the work of individual poets. Without federal support, many of these efforts may be jeopardized.

As our Chancellors said in their unprecedented joint statement:

The NEA and NEH have, over the past fifty years, fostered an educated, broadly informed, and creative America at every level... Poetry matters. The arts and humanities encourage reflection, empathy, and imagination—all qualities necessary to our individual and collective success.

Read NEA Chair Jane Chu’s statement on the proposed elimination of these agencies in the FY19 budget.

Here are some additional facts and resources about the NEA and NEH:

  • The total annual budget for the NEA is $148 million, and the NEH has a $146 million budget, which represents 0.003% of the federal budget respectively.
  • The NEA budget amounts to just 46 cents per capita.
  • The NEA is the only funder, public or private, that supports the arts in all 50 states.
  • The United States funds the arts in different ways, but the NEA is the largest single funder of the arts across America.
  • Since 1965, when the NEA launched, it has provided $116.6 million to literary organizations and more than $46 million to 3,000+ individual writers through individual fellowships.
  • In addition to supporting literary organizations and individual writers, the NEA’s literature program has two special literary projects—The Big Read, which encourages communities to read the same book, and Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest that annually engages more than 300,000 teens.

To find even more facts about the NEA, visit Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Don’t miss its ten reasons to support the arts.

Check out the original NEA legislation and this piece by Jeffrey Lependorf, the executive director of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses and Small Press Distribution, about the inspiring discoveries he made in the text.

Curious about how the federal budget process works? Find out.


  • Call your representatives and tell them how important the NEA has been to your organization.
  • Don’t know who your representative in the House is? Find out here.
  • Don’t know who your senator is? Find out here.
  • Write them letters.
  • Check out Pen America's list of action steps.


Learn more about and follow LitNet, a coalition of nonprofit literary organizations that advocates for federal and other funding for the literary arts.

Here are some other resources:

Become a member of the Academy of American Poets. The more members we have, the louder our organizational voice!

Support efforts that demonstrate poetry and literature’s impact, like the Poetry Coalition.