The Arts and Humanities Matter

Starting Friday, Central Floridians will be treated to UCF Celebrates the Arts, a free week-long festival by University of Central Florida artists. Now in its third year, the festival invites our community to enjoy the talents of our students and faculty members in downtown Orlando’s exquisite Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The celebration will be filled with many wonderful events, including a multi-media “mini-festival” around John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath – in video game form, art exhibit, musical theatre and a book reading – made possible in part with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of the UCF Big Read.

The NEA and its counterpart, the National Endowment for the Humanities, enrich the lives of communities through access to the arts. Like UCF, these agencies are fostering creativity, inspiring future generations, and lifting lives and livelihoods throughout our community.

National programs like the NEA’s “Art Works: Creativity Connects” support partnerships between arts organizations and organizations from non-arts sectors to spark innovative and collaborative ideas. That’s precisely the type of partnerships that thrive at UCF, as demonstrated during last year’s Celebrates the Arts collaboration between musician Hans Zimmer, artist Paul Franklin, and physicist Kip Thorne.

The NEH and NEA aren’t large agencies, but they are influential. For UCF’s arts and humanities faculty and students, they can provide critical start-up grants needed by researchers to get access to larger sources of funding.

When the NEH and NEA empower state governments to fund the arts and humanities, it creates national impact. By sending less than $50 million to the 50 states in 2016, the NEA leveraged an estimated $368 million in funding from state governments. And since 1977, the NEH has awarded nearly $900 million in Challenge Grants.

If you have taken in an exhibit at a museum, viewed a performance at a theater, visited a historic neighborhood, or checked a book out at a library, you have most likely benefited from projects funded by the NEA and NEH.

At the UCF College of Arts & Humanities, we stand behind the important work these governmental agencies do for our community, our faculty, and our students. I hope you will join me in supporting the valuable services the NEA and NEH provide, and in celebrating the beauty, creativity, and cultural relevance of the arts next week at UCF Celebrates the Arts.

Jeff Moore Dean, UCF College of Arts & Humanities