Acting Chairman at National Endowment for the Arts
With $135 million in emergency funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the federal agency will spend a lot of 2021 making sure our most important cultural institutions survive the pandemic. Acting Chairman Ann Eilers, who oversees the disbursement of these funds, thus holds one of the most impactful positions in the country, steering federal funding to arts organizations who most need it.
Eilers believes the emergency funding will do more than support ailing arts institutions cut off from traditional funding sources. “One of our primary goals is to incorporate principles of equity, access, and inclusion in the implementation of the American Rescue Plan,” she told Observer. For example, the agency will provide language access to resources for the first time by translating key documents and developing an extensive suite of technical assistance tools that will also be available with American Sign Language interpretation. “The idea,” she said, “is to continue using these tools and engagement tactics for future grant programs.”
As the country emerges from the pandemic, the NEA will continue to provide monetary support and research, and analysis tools to support the recovery of the arts and culture sector. The organization’s mandate to fulfill President Biden’s executive order on advancing racial equity and nurturing arts organizations new to applying for federal funds represents ongoing work. “We recognize we have a lot to learn,” she said. “It will take time to build deep relationships that will lead to many new organizations applying to the agency.”
With their support of artistic efforts in every Congressional district in every state and every jurisdiction, art lovers across the country feel the impact of their work. “We will continue to focus our efforts on communities and populations that have been underfunded and underrepresented by federal arts funding in the past,” said Ailers. “Our focus coming out of this pandemic will be to continue providing resources to the field that will ensure a full recovery for the arts and culture sector.”