Happy 55th Birthday to the National Endowment for the Arts

By Paulette Beete
Large group of men and women surrounding President Johnson sitting at a small table signing the legislation

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into the law the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-209) "to provide for the establishment of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities to promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts in the United States, and for other purposes."

The declaration of findings and purposes in part reads:

"Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants."

It goes on to say, "It is vital to democracy to honor and preserve its multicultural artistic heritage as well as support new ideas, and therefore it is essential to provide financial assistance to its artists and the organizations that support their work." (Read the full text here.)

Today all of us at the National Endowment for the Arts celebrate 55 years of nurturing American creativity, elevating the nation's culture, and preserving the country's many artistic treasures. We thank you for joining us in this important mission.