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National Endowment for the Arts

On January 4, 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson gave his State of the Union address, outlining proposals to advance what he called the Great Society, a comprehensive program of social reform with a particular focus on education and health. Johnson supported the creation of a federal arts agency as part of his Great Society vision. Congress, which had debated federal funding for nonprofit arts organizations for decades, created the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as part of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, which Johnson signed into law on September 29, 1965. This entry discusses NEA’s grant programs and its other activities to promote the arts.

At the time of the NEA’s founding, only 23 states had official ...

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