Arts & Entertainments

Introduction
Arts & Entertainments

There is no central ministry of culture that sets national policy for the arts in the United States government, thus reflecting the conviction that there are important areas of national life where government should have little or no role.

The two national endowments, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), provide grant support for individual artists and scholars and for arts and humanities institutions. While the NEA budget ( $115 million for fiscal year 2003) is quite modest when compared to other nations’ public arts funding, private donations have always provided the major support for American culture. Private spending for the arts in the United States for the year 2002 has been calculated at roughly $12.1 billion. During its nearly four decades of existence, the NEA, whose goals are to encourage excellence and to bring art to all Americans, has used its funds as a spark for private beneficence.

The 20th century has been one in which artists in the United States have broken free from Old World antecedents, taking the various cultural disciplines in new directions with impressive, innovative results.

Music, film, theater, dance, architecture and other artistic expressions have been enhanced and transformed. A rejuvenation in music, new directions in modern dance, drama drawn from the U.S. heartland, independent filmmaking across the landscape, the globalization of the visual arts: all of these are part of the contemporary scene in the United States.

What is at the root of all the ongoing creative ferment? Dana Gioia, the poet who currently is chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, identifies one likely source: “The reason that America has had this diversely distinguished history of art, this unprecedented breadth of achievement: ranging from movies to abstract expressionism to jazz to modern literature, is because America was and is a society that recognizes the individual freedom of its citizens.”

Architecture

Architecture

American architecture is exceptionally complex, both in the multiple traditions from which it has drawn and in the variations of style.

Blues and Jazz

Blues and Jazz

Blues is a native American musical and verse form, with no direct European and African antecedents of which we know.

Classic Music

Classic Music

American theatrical dance has always been fueled by a mixture of native and imported elements.

Dance

Dance

American theatrical dance has always been fueled by a mixture of native and imported elements.

Film

Film

Moving pictures were not an American invention; however, they have nonetheless been the preeminent American contribution to world entertainment.

Literature

Literature

American literature begins with the orally transmitted myths, legends, tales, and lyrics (always songs) of Indian cultures. There was no written literature among the Indian cultures.

Music Today

Music Today

Due to its diversity, popular music in the United States today challenges simple description. The history of popular music in the 1970s and ’80s is basically that of rock music which has grown to include hundreds of musical styles.

Rock, Country and Folk

Rock, Country and Folk

By the early 1950s jazz had lost some of its appeal to a mass audience. A new form of pop music, rock and roll, evolved from rhythm and blues: songs with strong beats and provocative lyrics.

Theater

Theater

American theater is traditionally dated from the arrival of Lewis Hallam’s English troupe in Williamsburg in 1752. After the end of the Revolutionary War, the Republic witnessed a slow expansion of the dramatic arts.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

The museums and monuments that line the National Mall in Washington D.C. house an enormous collection of art and artifacts that document both the past and present of American art and society.