Welcome to the The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

The President’s Committee bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives under our Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama.

Photo by Andrea Dylewski
Photo by Andrea Dylewski
Education Slide

The President’s Committee believes that the arts and humanities should be part of the education of every child in America. The PCAH honors organizations and supports initiatives that give young people the opportunity to experience the mastery, discipline and accomplishment that is part of being an artist and scholar.

Photo by Michael JN Bowles
Photo by Michael JN Bowles
Cultural Exchange Slide

International cultural exchange and cooperation in an increasingly interconnected world is more important than ever. By fostering connections with audiences in the U.S. and abroad, the President’s Committee seeks to share ideas, broaden understanding of the riches of cultural traditions from around the world and expand cooperation to sustain and nurture artists, scholars, performers and institutions.
Photo: Dave Matthews and Cuban musician Carlos Varela (right) perform during PCAH cultural visit to Cuba.

Photo by Jocelyn Augustino
Photo by Jocelyn Augustino
Creative Economy Slide

Arts, humanities and heritage resources and their creative workers are a key to healthy, vibrant communities, increasing their competitiveness as places to live, work and visit. Festivals, galleries, studios, historic sites and buildings and a wealth of other cultural and historic assets are integral to the identity of communities and neighborhoods. The President's Committee focuses its leadership on the value of civic investment in these critical resources.

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC
Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC
Special Events Slide

A healthy cultural climate requires dedicated citizens and civic leadership. The President’s Committee embodies that principle as a dynamic link between the public and private sectors, which is used to support activities that recognize distinguished artists and humanists, as well as celebrate the diversity of American culture as a source of strength.

Photo by Tony Brown
Photo by Tony Brown

PCAH SpotlightPCAH Spotlight

President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 2009-2016: A Legacy of Action

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 2009-2016: A Legacy of Action highlights the results of the synergy of collaboration the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) forged with the private sector and each of the cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—over the last eight years, catalyzing groundbreaking initiatives in arts education like Turnaround Arts  and expanding legacy programs like the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards. The transformation and change envisioned by PCAH’s Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama came about through the individual and collective creativity and energy of PCAH members. Together this President’s Committee built model programs that were similar to, but different than anything that had come before in nurturing the talents, aspirations and knowledge of our nation’s youth.

Read more.

Why the Arts Must be at the Table

The Wilson Center, together with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, ArtPlace America, and Partners for Livable Communities, hosted a conference on December 6, 2016 to celebrate NEA's 50th anniversary publication, How to Do Creative Placemaking. Rip Rapson, President ... Read More »

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors 2016 NAHYP Award Winners at White House Ceremony

First Lady Michelle Obama recognized and celebrated twelve young people from across the country on behalf of the award-winning creative youth development programs in which they participate. The children and teens represented the twelve after-school and out-of-school-time programs that received ... Read More »

PCAH Cuban Delegation Artist Joshua Bell and Chamber Orchestra of Havana Perform at Lincoln Center

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, PBS’  Live From Lincoln Center will broadcast Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba on 16 December 2017. Last April, Bell was an artist member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Cultural Delegation to Cuba, the first official ... Read More »

PCAH Honors National Medals Winners

In a ceremony at the White House, ten National Medals for the Arts and twelve National Humanities Medals were presented by President Barack Obama to legendary artists, renowned scholars, musicians, historians, actors and institutions. The awards honor extraordinary contributions to the arts ... Read More »
Kalpen Suresh Modi

The Immeasurable Component of Art in Diplomacy

September 29, 2016 – Kalpen Suresh Modi

The flight from Miami to Havana is just over 200 miles, about the same distance as New York to Washington, DC. We touched down at Jose Marti International Airport in less time than it takes to make a pizza, and in so doing became the first official US Cultural Delegation to Cuba. There have been wonderful, detailed accounts of this historic visit, and its function (cultural diplomacy), nature (friendly and collaborative), and outcomes (artistic and financial commitments), so I won’t rehash those here. What I’ll focus on instead is the immeasurable component of art itself in the rebuilding of relationships at a people-to-people level. Artists are known for conveying the human experience across borders, this is nothing new; just turn on Mr. Bean in any country and watch people smile. But the opportunity to share the universal joys and struggles of family life, of putting food on the table, of love and loss, of great friends – with an entire country that has been estranged for decades – that is something truly significant. Just like sharing home-cooked food, the arts nourish the soul and unify the human spirit. Cynics may roll their eyes at artsy-talk like this, but consider ... Read More »

Re-investing in Arts Education: A Chicago Conversation

July 11, 2012 –

Last fall, my husband Jim and I hosted a conversation on arts education in Chicago. One of four such conversations held around the country, the evening was designed to bring together thought leaders, administrators, philanthropists and members of President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) to discuss the national imperative of arts education and the PCAH’s landmark report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools. We were pleased to have co-chair Margo Lion, Vice Chair Mary Schmidt Campbell, and fellow PCAH members Damian Woetzel, Yo-Yo Ma, and Howard Gottleib join us for this important evening. Joining them were an impressive list of local academics and educators including: the head of Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard; President Walter Massey of the School of the Art Institute; President Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago; Timothy Knowles of the Urban Education Initiative; and Deborah Rutter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also joining us were a group of prominent civic leaders including Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, Caryn and King Harris, Penny Sebring and Chuck Lewis, Julie and Brian Simmons, ... Read More »

Honorary ChairmanHonorary Chairman

First Lady Michelle Obama

The arts and humanities define who we are as a people.  That is their power -- to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common.  To help us understand our history and imagine our future.  To give us hope in the moments of struggle and to bring us together when nothing else will.”

— First Lady Michelle Obama

About Our MembersAbout Our Members

The President’s Committee’s success in engaging the public and private sectors depends on the expertise and leadership of its private and federal members, who embody and represent the diverse elements of the cultural sector.

Read more about the President's Committee and read the Chairmen's Letter »

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