Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.
For over five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of vital cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange. The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual arts program in 1953, and President John F. Kennedy formalized it at the U.S. Department of State in 1963. Today, Art in Embassies is an official visual arts office within the U.S. Department of State, engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors. It encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries. Professional curators and registrars create and ship about 60 exhibitions per year, and since 2000, over 70 permanent collections have been installed in the Department’s diplomatic facilities throughout the world.
Art in Embassies fosters U.S. relations within local communities world-wide – in the last decade, more than 100 artists have traveled to countries participating in AIE’s exchange programs and collaborated with local artists to produce works now on display in embassies and consulates. Going forward, AIE will continue to engage, educate, and inspire global audiences, showing how art can transcend national borders and build connections among peoples.
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The study of the humanities — history, literature, philosophy, and the arts — helps us explore what it means to be human. The humanities enable us to understand the world and our place in it.
The Fine Arts Collection is one of the nation's oldest and largest public art collections. It consists of mural and easel paintings, sculptures, architectural and environmental artworks, as well as prints and other works on paper dating from the 1850s to the present. These civic artworks are displayed in federal buildings and courthouses nationwide. In addition, more than 23,000 easel paintings, prints, and small-scale sculptures created during the New Deal are on long-term loan to museums and other non-profit institutions across the United States. Maintained by GSA as a part of America's national and cultural heritage, the Fine Arts Collection also serves as a reminder of the important tradition of individual creative expression.
From its inception to the present, the Fine Arts Collection has two distinct characteristics: the artworks are commissioned to adorn and enhance civic architecture and they are paid for with taxpayers' funds. Therefore, these artworks belong to the American people, and are held in public trust for current and future generations.
Since 1999, Houston’s Civic Art Ordinance has required that 1.75 percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent to integrate artwork and the ideas of artists in public spaces and to conserve the City Art Collection.
Houston’s Civic Art Program has commissioned hundreds of site-specific artworks and completed conservation projects across the city. The City Art Collection provides residents and visitors the opportunity to encounter art in airports, the convention center, libraries, parks, police stations, health and recreation centers and streetscapes.