Letter from the Executive Director
Our founder, José Limón, believed that “the dance is a lingua franca common to all men, [that] human movement and gesture can cross oceans and mountains, rivers and deserts, bridge national frontiers and parochialisms.” The same holds true for the arts as a whole. Art brings people together by communicating truths, inspiring hope, and celebrating our common humanity. In the current fractured climate, we need the arts more than ever to promote understanding and empathy.
In 1966, the first year of National Endowment for the Arts awards, eight choreographers received a total of $103,000 for the creation of new works. These eight choreographers each went on to become mainstays of American Modern Dance, forging a unique national voice through movement. As part of that first round, José Limón received $23,000 and in that same year choreographed The Winged, a work still performed today. Fifty years later, our partnership with the NEA persists. Their support has allowed us to reach all 50 states and Washington DC with tours, master classes, and workshops. We are committed to serving as many Americans as possible, but the NEA takes this pledge to the next level by supporting artists and arts education in every congressional district.
After 50 years of NEA assistance, it is time for us to champion them. I urge you to call your congressional representatives and voice the necessity of a government commitment to the arts. When he signed the NEA into existence, Lyndon Johnson remarked that “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”America will not be made great without great art.
Juan José Escalante