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This collection is available in whole for research use. Some folders may still have withdrawn material due to Freedom of Information Act restrictions. Most frequently withdrawn material is national security classified material, personal privacy, protection of the President, etc.



Scope and Content Note

The appointment of a White House Liaison to the Arts and Humanities was an outgrowth of the initial President's Task Force on the Arts and Humanities. The Task Force met in the summer of 1981 with the primary task of exploring ways private funding could be increased for the arts; allowing outside arts professionals input on federal decisions regarding the arts and humanities; and possible management improvements and organizational changes within the federal arts and humanities agencies. The group met with the federal agencies involved and with various local arts and civic groups gathering ideas and recommendations.

The Task Force recommended creation of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities to help coordinate the activities of the two Endowments (National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities) and to pursue private sector funding for the arts and humanities. The President created the Committee on the Arts and Humanities with Executive Order 12367 on June 15, 1982. The Committee's honorary chairman was Nancy Reagan. The chairman was Andrew Heiskell, Chairman of Time, Inc. The Committee had an executive director (Diane Brokaw) and its records are federal records held at the National Archives.

Muffie Brandon, the White House Social Secretary, appears to have coordinated activities of the Task Force and the early stages of creating the President’s Committee. In August 1982, Theresa Elmore was appointed White House Liaison for the Arts and Humanities in addition to her White House Administrative Office duties. The White House had no budget or staff for this position, so Ms. Elmore performed this function on an "as-needed" and "part-time" basis. The responsibilities, by her own estimate, took about 15% of her work time.

In addition to working with the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities and the two Endowments, the Liaison also worked with numerous quasi government and private organizations such as the Congressional Arts Caucus, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery, the Corcoran Museum, the American Association of Museums, Arts International, and the National Association of Local Arts Agency, etc.

Responsibilities also included working with scheduling of the President, First Lady and other White House staff, messages from the President, First Lady or other White House staff to arts groups and institutions, meetings and events involving the White House and the arts/humanities, and meetings of the President’s Committee of the Arts and Humanities and facilitating communications between the Committee and White House staff and offices.

Ms. Elmore left her position in the Administrative Office in the fall of 1984 for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The position of White House Liaison for the Arts and Humanities was taken over by Donna Blume, Executive Assistant in the Deputy Chief of Staff Office (Michael Deaver). This position was eliminated in 1985. Material created by Brandon, Elmore and Blume are all included within this material.

This collection consists of five series: SERIES I: President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; SERIES II: Liaison Material; SERIES III: National Endowment for the Arts; SERIES IV: National Endowment for the Humanities; SERIES V: President’s Task Force on the Arts and Humanities.


This series consists of material relating to the formation of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and selection of the members. It also includes material regarding meetings of the Committee; meetings of the ad hoc “east” and “west” working groups to find private sector funding; reports on activities of the Committee; an Arts luncheon held at the White House with the President and Mrs. Reagan to honor and recognize significant arts funding by private groups or individuals; and material related to specific private/public projects sponsored by the Committee.

SERIES II: LISISON MATERIAL (1.0 l.ft.; Box 4-6)

This series consists of material relating to the White House Liaison for the Arts and Humanities work with all quasi-government and private arts groups and arts policies in general. The material includes background information on various groups and institutions; requests for White House involvement in particular projects or with groups; a day-to-day correspondence file reflecting the work process of the Liason; and material on the National Association of Local Arts Agency meetings. The material is foldered alphabetically by the various groups and the general correspondence file is arranged chronologically.


This series consists of material relating to members of the advising group, the National Council on the Arts; a five year operating and budget plan for the National Endowment for the Arts (Endowment, NEA); coordinating specific events or activities with the White House and NEA: including attending American Museum Association’s meetings, two requests from dancer/choreographer Martha Graham for White House involvement, a presentation by the city of Baltimore on their arts programs, renaming the Old Post Office in honor of former NEA Chairman Nancy Hanks, and presidential messages for programs; and general liaison correspondence with NEA on ongoing programs and events. This series also includes material regarding two new NEA programs initiated in the 1980s: a new National Medal of the Arts and design awards for excellence in design by federal facilities, agencies and individuals – both awarded by the President. The material is in alphabetical order by folder title.


This series consists of material relating to members of the advising group, the National Council on the Humanities; proposed budget requests for FY 1983 for the National Endowment for the Humanities (Endowment, NEH); a set of public affairs news items regarding the NEH for the spring quarter of 1984; and a folder on staff reductions at the NEH. This series also includes liaison material between Muffie Brandon and Teresa Elmore with William Bennett, Chairman of the NEH and other NEH Staff members regarding activities of Bennett, new programs for the NEH, scheduling requests, and events sponsored by the Endowment for the time period 1982-August 1984.


This series consists of material relating to Executive Order 12308 issued on June 5, 1981 creating the President’s Task Force on the Arts and Humanities; outlines for the objectives of the Task Force; meeting schedules; minutes of some meetings; preliminary recommendations; scheduling for a Task Force luncheon with President Reagan on October 14, 1981 for presentation of the Task Force report; and two drafts of the Task Force final report. The material is arranged in roughly chronological order.

Last Updated: 11/02/2021 07:07PM

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