Thursday, March 30, 2006

Also at yesterday's hearings of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies:

· The panel reviewed the National Endowment for the Humanities' proposed budget, which is $141 million, last year's appropriation. Bruce Cole, NEH chairman, said the funds would continue the current programs and start a new program on "digital humanities." He said the humanities endowment wanted to be a catalyst between the public and the researchers "to help narrow the gap between the scholar and the citizen." An NEH initiative has now put 30 million pages of historic documents and history texts online.

· Dana Gioia, the National Endowment for the Arts chairman, said that although his agency's request for $124.4 million was flat, the arts fund was maintaining its initiatives and even getting unexpected bonuses. The NEA has pilot programs for an effort called "The Big Read." In Topeka, even a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop joined in the effort to get people to enjoy literature by promoting a local book list.

· The NEA also reported it has collected more than 10,000 pages of written material from U.S. troops and their spouses for a book on experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

· When it opened, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian projected that attendance in its first full year would be 3.4 million. In reality it attracted 2.2 million in 2005. Also, the Udvar-Hazy Center, the addition to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport that houses more than 100 aircraft, including the space shuttle Enterprise and a Concorde, was expected to have 3.4 million visitors in 2005, but only 2.2 million arrived.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company