Hudson river painted by charles-wilson
Hudson River

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.”


American Association of Museums

American Masters Database (PBS)

American Roots Music: The Roots of American Music (PBS)

Art and Culture

Atlantic Unbound – Arts & Literature (The Atlantic Monthly)

Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive (CPANDA)

Federal Resources for Education: Arts (U.S. Department of Education)

National Assembly of State Art Agencies

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Gallery of Art

NYFA Source (New York Foundation for the Arts National Database Directory for Artists)


Original Documents

Archives of American Art (Smithsonian)

Performing Arts in America 1875-1923 (New York Public Library)
Exhibits – Digital Images

Art Museum Network

Creative Americans Portraits by Carl van Vechten (American Memory, Library of Congress)

A New Deal for the Arts (National Archives)



The Kennedy Center Multimedia Archive

For High School Students

CyberTeens – Creativity

Children’s Music Web

Internet Public Library: Art

Kid Info: Arts

National Gallery of Art – Kids

See, Hear and Sing (Library of Congress)

Smithsonian Education for Students

Smithsonian Magazine: Kids’ Castle

Teacher Resources

Artsedge – Teaching Materials (Kennedy Center)

Exploring Themes in American Art (National Gallery of Art)

Lesson Plans (Library of Congress)

Smithsonian Education – Lesson Plans

Teacher Source – Arts and Literature (PBS)

Link Lists

About: Art

Artcyclopedia: Fine Art on the Internet

Art on the Web (MIT Libraries Subject Guide)

Arts Journal (Daily Digest of Articles on the Arts, Culture and Ideas)


AskArt: Information on American Artists

Classical Music History Timeline: Composers (Search Beat)

Foundation Center

The Glossarist: Arts & Culture Glossaries

Internet Public Library: Arts and Humanities

Museums Online

Suite 101: Arts

World Wide Arts Resources: Online Exhibitions USA


Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.

U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Korea/Public Affairs/ Information Resource Center

Updated: October 2005