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9 Reasons UT Austin Loves the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities

From Shakespeare at Winedale to archaeology in Greece, here are nine reasons UT loves the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities on their 50th anniversary, as their chairs visit campus.

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation establishing the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage,” LBJ said at the time. “For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”

In the five decades since that landmark act, the NEA and NEH have supported thousands of American artists, writers, musicians and scholars including hundreds from UT Austin.

Here are 9 reasons why UT Austin is especially grateful for the support of the NEA and NEH.

1. Bringing Shakespeare to the People

Support for our Shakespeare at Winedale program has helped hundreds of UT Austin students bring the bard to life through performance, delighting audiences along the way. (Schedule a visit to Winedale.) 

UT Austin students in Shakespeare at Winedale

Students perform “A Winter’s Tale” during the 2012 season of Shakespeare at Winedale. Courtesy of Shakespeare at Winedale

2. Showcasing Great Art

Support for major exhibitions — like the Blanton Museum’s recent show “Impressionism and the Caribbean” helps UT Austin share its treasures with the world. (See upcoming exhibitions at the Blanton Museum and Ransom Center.) 

Francisco Oller’s Hacienda La Fortuna

Francisco Oller’s Hacienda La Fortuna (1885), from the exhibition “Impressionism and the Caribbean” at the Blanton Museum of Art. Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art, UT Austin

3. Documenting the American Experience

Photo archives at the Briscoe Center for American History bring the past to life – like this image of Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) landing a punch in Houston, from the NEH-supported Bob Bailey Studio Photographic Archive. (Browse more Briscoe Center photos online.) 

Boxer Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)

Boxer Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in Houston. Courtesy of the Bob Bailey Studio Photographic Archive at the Briscoe Center for American History.

4. Remembering Ancient Languages

Support for UT Austin scholars helps preserve languages from Native America, Latin America, the Mediterranean and ancient Middle East through projects like the electronic Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon. (Learn more about this project at the College of Liberal Arts.) 

Syriac script from Mt. Sinai

Syriac script from Mt. Sinai in Egypt, circa 11th century. Courtesy of the electronic Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon.

5. Digging Into the Past

Grants to our Institute of Classical Archaeology help students explore ancient locations all over the world. (Explore ancient Texas at the NEH-supported UT Austin website Texas Beyond History.) 

UT Austin students on a dig in Greece

UT Austin students on a dig in Greece. Courtesy of the Institute of Classical Archaeology.

6. Preserving Artifacts

A grant on presidential artifacts helped scholars create this display at the LBJ Presidential Library showing a lineup of pens LBJ used to sign major legislation. (Arrange a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library.) 

Pens LBJ used as president

Pens LBJ used as president to sign major legislation, on display at the LBJ Presidential Library.

7. Telling Stories

Hundreds of writers have benefitted from NEA and NEH support when they published in the UT Austin-based literary magazine American Short Fiction, an important venue for established and emerging authors. (Subscribe to American Short Fiction.) 

American Short Fiction

Covers from American Short Fiction.

8. Broadening Horizons

Support for many projects involving Latin America – such as a recent exploration of the artistry of Mexican folk toys – deepens our understanding of Texas’ geographic and historic neighbor to the south. (See digitized highlights from the Benson Latin American Collection.)

Traditional Oaxacan rag dolls

Traditional Oaxacan rag dolls on display at the 2010 FONART exhibition in Mexico City. Photo by Alejandro Linares Garcia.

9. Launching Careers

Each year, the NEA and NEH support scores of UT Austin graduate students, post-docs and young professionals, including students in our top-ranked concentrations in preservation and conservation in the School of Information. (Consider a degree in the School of Information.) 

Photo conservator at the Ransom Center

Diana Diaz Cañas, photo conservator, works in the photography conservation lab at the Ransom Center. Photo by Jane Boyd and Barbara Brown.