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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 10, 2005

President Celebrates 40th Anniversary of National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
The State Floor

President's Remarks

7:44 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, and welcome. Laura and I are really happy you're here. We meet tonight to celebrate the 40th anniversary of both the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We especially welcome NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, and NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. And we'd like to recognize their outstanding contributions to our nation's arts and humanities. Dana and Bruce are both distinguished scholars and authors, and under their visionary leadership, America's programs to support the arts and humanities have continued to enrich our nation's cultural and civic life.

I also want to recognize a former head of the NEH, Lynne Cheney, and her husband. (Laughter and applause.) It's also my honor to welcome Linda Robb, whose dad had the wisdom to start both these programs. Welcome. (Applause.)

Over the last 40 years, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have strengthened our democracy by supporting our nation's ideals, institutions, and emerging talents. The NEA has provided support for music and dance, theater and the arts across our great country. It has helped improve public access to education in the arts, offered workshops in writing, and brought artistic masterpieces to under-served communities.

At the same time, the NEH has done important work to preserve America's cultural treasures. And it has helped introduce millions of Americans to award-winning books, documentaries, and museum exhibitions.

These two institutions also help support the arts and humanities by encouraging great talent. This morning I awarded the National Medal of Arts, and the National Humanities Medal to men and women who have made exemplary contributions to our nation's art, culture and scholarship. Each medal winner has helped define our era. Each has excelled and demonstrated originality, endurance and self-discipline. And together, their creativity inspires our students and elevates our culture, and enriches our nation.

Congratulations to you all. (Applause.)

President Franklin Roosevelt once said that free nations gain new responsibilities when other countries try to turn back the clock of civilization by burning libraries and exiling their artists and thinkers. Free nations, he said, have an obligation to keep the torch of free thought and free learning burning bright.

America is a country where the light of freedom does burn bright. And by supporting our artists and scholars, we help inspire those who do not yet enjoy freedom. We defend creativity and expression because we value a free and open society. And our actions set an example for the entire world. And so, tonight, I offer a toast to the brightest lights of American creativity: men and women who entertain us, inform us, and inspire us.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

END 6:53 P.M. EST

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