About the NEA

American Canvas Report Released by the National Endowment for the Arts

1997On this date, the NEA released the American Canvas report, an analysis and examination of the current state of the nonprofit arts in America. The report, the culmination of a year-long process that included regional forums across the country, was a cautionary tale about America's cultural legacy, the economic and social conditions surrounding the nonprofit arts, compartmentalization of the arts in community life, the place of the arts in education, and the opportunities and risks presented by new technologies. The report also included challenges for individuals and organizations to take future action to sustain and preserve the nonprofit arts in their own communities.

"The American Canvas report represents all that I have been trying to do these past four years," said then Chairman Jane Alexander. "It signals the complex and pressing needs of the nonprofit arts, the hunger for culture in our communities, and the urgency for action if we are to pass on our cultural legacy, undiminished, to the children of the new millennium."

The report was intended to discuss important questions, such as: What kind of culture will future generations enjoy? How can we ensure that the finest achievements of the past and present will endure in the future? And what needs to be done today to prepare our children -- artists, audiences and patrons of tomorrow -- both to appreciate and to participate in the culture of their time?

The complete American Canvas report is available online.