As reported in today’s Washington Post, the president’s budget seeks to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and “would radically reshape the nation’s cultural infrastructure.”
Since the Center for the Art of Translation’s inception in 2000, the NEA has helped make it possible for us to showcase the work of more than 1,200 writers and translators, publish more than 40 books and journals, host hundreds of literary events, and reach thousands of students through our cross-cultural curriculum, Poetry Inside Out.
We’re not alone! The NEA’s support for literary projects and programs extends well beyond our offices in San Francisco: they’ve supported great work in translation from Archipelago Books, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas Austin, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, Dalkey Archive Press, Graywolf Press, MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, Milkweed Editions, Open Letter Books, Tavern Books, Ugly Duckling Presse, Words Without Borders, and Zephyr Press, among dozens of other excellent journals and presses.
Since 1981, the NEA has awarded 433 fellowships to 383 translators, with translations representing 67 languages and 81 countries. The outcome of these projects are many outstanding and award-winning books, including:
- Eric Abrahamsen’s translation of Xu Zechen’s Running Through Beijing
- Susan Bernofsky’s translation of Robert Walser’s The Tanners
- Charlotte Mandell’s translation of Mathias Énard’s Zone (Mandell’s translation of Énard’s Compass is on the 2017 Man Booker International Prize longlist)
- Sawako Nakayasu’s translation of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (which went on to win the 2016 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation)
- Denise Newman’s translation of Naja Marie Aidt’s Baboon (which went on to win the 2015 PEN Translation Prize)
- Yvette Siegert’s translation of Alejandra Pizarnik’s Extracting the Stone of Madness
- Natasha Wimmer’s landmark translation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666
The NEA’s contribution to literary translation cannot be overstated.
What can you do? Contact your Members of Congress to tell them that you strongly support the National Endowment for the Arts. Tell them that you want to make sure the NEA is fully funded in this year’s budget so that it can continue its important work for readers, writers, and communities across the country.
If one of your representatives serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Interior, which is instrumental in determining the NEA’s budget, your call or letter is especially important: Ken Calvert (CA-42), Mike Simpson (ID-2), Tom Cole (OK-4), David Joyce (OH-14), Chris Stewart (UT-2), Mark Amodei (NV-2), Evan Jenkins (WV-3), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), and Marcy Kaptur (OH-9).
If one of your senators serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, your call or letter is also very important: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Roy Blunt (Missouri), John Hoeven (North Dakota), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Steve Daines (Montana), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Tom Udall (New Mexico), Dianne Feinstein (California), Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Jack Reed (Rhode Island), Jon Tester (Montana), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), and Chris Van Hollen (Maryland).
What President Lyndon Johnson signed into law nearly 52 years ago rings true today: “The arts and the humanities belong to all the people of the United States.”
We hope you’ll join us to do what you can to #SAVEtheNEA.