National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act Media Kit


On Sept. 29, 1965, in a Rose Garden ceremony surrounded by artists and lawmakers, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965. The act called for the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as separate, independent agencies. The act's basic goals were to:


- Create a national theatre to bring ancient and modern classics of the theatre to audiences all over America
- Support a national opera and ballet company
- Create an American film institute, bringing together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators, and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th century art form as their life's work
- Commission new works of music by American composers
- Support symphony orchestras
- Bring more great artists to our schools and universities by creating grants for their time in residence


The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent agency that supports artist's excellence, creativity, and innovation through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion in grants. The first NEA grant was awarded to The American Ballet Theatre on December 20, 1965. The amount was $100,000 and is credited with saving the theatre from having to close its doors. See how the NEA is celebrating their 50th anniversary.


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides grants to cultural institutions such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, public television, radio stations, and individual scholars. Explore NEH-funded projects.


For historical perspective, the LBJ Presidential Library has collected related photos, videos, audio, and text from the bill signing. All are public domain.

Art is a nation's most precious heritage. 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.


- President Lyndon B. Johnson