policy and advocacy
Headlines of the Week
- White House Issues Proclamation for National Arts and Humanities Month
09-30-2013: National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast celebration of culture in America. Held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts, NAHM is the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the nation. President Obama has issued a White House proclamation that recognizes the value of the arts and humanities and kicks off this month’s celebrations.
- Congress Returns from Recess to Packed Agenda
09-09-2013: Congress returns from its August recess this week to a busy legislative agenda. The U.S. House is scheduled to be in session only nine days this month, and have a packed agenda with decisions looming over the outstanding funding legislation and potential default on the national debt. To allow for more time, they are expected to pass a short term funding measure called a Continuing Resolution to keep the government operational by maintaining current funding levels.
- Americans for the Arts Signs Letter to Senate Education Leaders
09-02-2013: As a part of the College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness Coalition, Americans for the Arts has signed onto a letter to Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Alexander (R-TN) in support of the language in the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S.1094), which supports a well-rounded education.
- Congress in Recess until Early September
08-26-2013: The U.S. Congress has recessed until September 9th, leaving the FY 2014 appropriations process unfinished. When they return, they will likely pass a Continuing Resolution as a stop short-term funding solution to give them more time to work on appropriations, as well as prepare for tax reform debate.
- Four New Members Join the House Arts Caucus
08-19-2013: Representatives Frankel (D-FL), Lynch (D-MA), O’Rourke (D-TX), and Titus (D-NV) have all recently joined the Congressional Arts Caucus, which is currently co-chaired by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ). The caucus now has 163 members.
- Senate Releases Draft NEA Interior Bill
08-12-2013: The Senate Appropriations committee has released its draft version of the FY 2014 spending bill which would fund the NEA and NEH at the president’s request level of $154 million for each agency. This is a major departure from the House version, which seeks a 49 percent cut to the cultural agencies. With only a few legislative days remaining before the end of the fiscal year, it is doubtful a final bill will be negotiated, and a short-term continuing resolution is expected.
- Major NEA Cut Suspended Until Fall
08-05-2013: Last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee began consideration of legislation that would devastate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with a 49% cut to its budget. An amendment to restore the funding to the NEA was defeated along a party-line vote of 19-27. With rising tempers over this cut and many others, the committee has now suspended its consideration until mid-September.
- House Subcommittee Cuts NEA by 49%
07-29-2013: Last week, the U.S House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved its initial FY 2014 funding legislation, which includes a proposed cut of $71 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This would bring funding of the NEA down to $75 million, a level not seen since 1974! Please take two minutes to send a customizable message to your members of Congress rejecting these dramatic cuts to NEA funding.
- Americans for the Arts Signs Letter to Protect Charitable Deduction
07-15-2011: As a part of the Charitable Giving Coalition, Americans for the Arts has signed on to a letter urging Chairman Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Hatch (R-UT) to preserve the charitable tax deduction as it currently stands in light of the recently released “blank-slate” tax reform plan. This plan proposes to jump start the tax reform overhaul by putting everything on the table and starting with a blank slate, until senators submit a detailed justification to the benefits of the special preferences they think should be added back in.
- Artist-Museum Partnership Legislation Reintroduced
07-08-2013: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has reintroduced the Artist-Museum Partnership Act (H.R. 2482) for the 113th Congress. This legislation would allow creators of original works to deduct the fair-market value of self-created works given to and retained by a nonprofit institution. It would encourage gifts of visual art such as paintings and sculptures, as well as original manuscripts and supporting material created by composers, authors, and choreographers. Find more information in our issue brief.
- Artist Visa Provision Included in Senate Vote
07-01-2013: The U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan amendment to the comprehensive immigration bill, which included a provision sponsored by Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) known as the Arts Require Timely Service (“ARTS”) Act. The ARTS Act seeks to improve visa processing for foreign guest artists preparing to perform in the United States, and its inclusion is an important step forward to ensuring efficient and reliable processing of nonprofit arts-related visa petitions. Soon, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin drafting their version of an immigration bill, and Americans for the Arts will continue working with our coalition partners to get the ARTS Act included in the House legislation as well.
- U.S. House Committee Approves Education Legistion
06-24-2013: Last week, the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee approved education reform legislation introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN). Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) had proposed a substitute amendment which included several new pro-arts provisions that failed along a party-line vote, but we expect Mr. Miller to continue pushing for these changes through future consideration on the House floor. Read further details about this bill and education legislation in the Senate here.
- New Education Legislation Introduced in the Senate
06-11-2013: Education leaders in Congress have begun another attempt to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act, now years past its authorized timeframe. In the Senate, education committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have both introduced separate pieces of legislation that pursue divergent solutions to approaching Title I funding for disadvantaged students, teacher evaluation, student assessment and providing for a well-rounded curriculum that includes the arts.The committee plans to markup the bill this week.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Highlights Beginning of Appropriations Process
06-03-2013: Last week, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated a memo to House offices outlining the chamber's proposed work schedule for June, including starting work on four FY14 appropriations bills. The next step for the Interior Appropriations bill will be Subcommittee markup, where they will set the initial levels for the both the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Senator King Join the Senate Cultural Caucus
05-20-2013: Since National Arts Advocacy Day on April 8-9, Senator Angus King, Jr. (I-ME) joined the bipartisan Senate Cultural Caucus. The Caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and currently has 33 members.
- New Members Join the Congressional Arts Caucus
05-13-2013: Since National Arts Advocacy Day on April 8-9, 2013, twelve members of Congress have joined the bipartisan Congressional Arts Caucus. The caucus is co-chaired by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and currently has 160 members.
- "Dear Colleague Letters" Support NEA in House and Senate
05-06-2013: In both the U.S. House and Senate, “Dear Colleague” letters have been circulated in support of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities. Led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in the House, the letter urges fellow legislators to support $154.466 for the NEA in FY 2014. The final House letter received 95 signatories. In the Senate, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) led efforts on a similar letter supporting $154 million for both the NEA and NEH. The final Senate letter has 26 signers.
- NEH Chairman Jim Leach Announces Resignation
04-29-2013: Last week, Chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities Jim Leach announced that he is resigning from his position effective the first week of May. Prior to his time at NEH, Leach served as a U.S. Representative, and had received the Congressional Arts Leadership Award in 2006. NEH Deputy Chairman Carole Watson will be the acting head of the endowment until a permanent replacement is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Earlier this year, Rocco Landesman resigned as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, and it is expected that a replacement for him will be nominated later this spring.
- Americans for the Arts Member Sheila Smith Testifies before Interior Subcommittee in Support of NEA
04-22-2013: Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and member of Americans for the Arts, testified in support of the National Endowment for the Arts before the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on April 17. Read Sheila's testimony requesting $154.466 million in funding for the NEA here.
- Obama Administration Releases FY 2014 Budget Request
04-15-2013: The Obama Administration released its FY14 Budget Request with proposed increases for the nation’s cultural agencies over last year’s appropriated levels. The National Endowment for the Arts proposed funding goes from $146.3 million to $155.5. Other agencies and programs saw modest increases as well with the Office of Museum Services receiving a $2 million bump to $32.9 million and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting staying level-funded at $445 million.
- National Arts Advocacy Day Takes Place on Capitol Hill
04-08-2013: Americans for the Arts, in conjunction with 87 national organizations, hosted the 2013 National Arts Advocacy Day. More than 500 arts advocates from across the country held meetings with congressional offices in support of the arts. Acclaimed musician and arts educator Yo-Yo Ma delivered the 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was given the 2013 Congressional Arts Leadership Award. See highlights from the events here.
- Congress Finalizes FY 2013 Appropriations
04-01-2013: Congress approves the final FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, averting a government-wide shutdown and keeping in place the 5 percent sequester cuts for the cultural agencies, including the NEA, for the remainder of the fiscal year.
- House and Senate Release Separate Budget Resolutions
03-25-2013: The U.S. House and Senate have released their FY 2014 budget resolutions. These resolutions are non-binding and do not require the signature of the president to pass, but they do provide instructions that will guide the appropriations process and inform the upcoming tax debates.
- President's FY 2014 Budget Proposal Pushed to Week of April 8
03-18-2013: Though traditionally released in February, the administration has announced that it will likely release its FY 2014 budget proposal the week of April 8 due to ongoing federal spending negotiations. It is expected that the president's funding level request for the National Endowment for the Arts will mirror last year's proposed level of $154.3 million.
- Rep. Leonard Lance Named Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair
03-11-2013: U.S. Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) has agreed to become the Congressional Arts Caucus co-chair, joining Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Over the years, the Caucus has been the most visible supporter of the federal role for arts and culture and the primary legislative resource in protecting pro-arts funding and policies. Mr. Lance was invited by Mrs. Slaughter to join her and replace Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) who retired from Congress last year and will be greatly missed.
Rep. Lance has been a member of the New Jersey Council on the Humanities and a trustee of the Newark Museum and the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. The Americans for the Arts Action Fund gave him an “A+” grade for his arts support in the last Congress, and he has been a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus since beginning his tenure in the House of Representatives.
- Sequester to Cut Cultural Agencies
03-04-2013: The administration has released its official report of how the 5 percent sequester cuts were implemented across the federal government. The sequester will mean cuts of about $7 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, $12 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and $22 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- Sequester Expected to Affect Federal Agencies Including NEA
02-25-2013: On March 1, the across-the-board government spending cuts known as the “sequester” will be enacted. Federal cultural agencies and institutions including the National Endowment for the Arts will be subject to a 5% cut. This is the first of many government spending deadlines Congress is dealing with including finalizing the FY 2013 appropriations, which are currently being funding through a Continuing Resolution set to expire on March 27.
- House Ways and Means Committee Hearing Examined Charitable Deduction
02-18-2013: Last week, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to examine the itemized deduction for charitable contributions as part of the Committee's work on comprehensive tax reform. More than 40 witnesses provided examples of the community benefits that the charitable deduction supports. See the full list of witnesses and read testimony here.
- Americans for the Arts Joins Coalition Seeking to Stop Sequestration
02-11-2013: As Congress faces the debt ceiling, fiscal year 2013 spending bills, sequestration, and the fiscal year 2014, Americans for the Arts has joined a coalition calling for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to discretionary programs. The coalition of more than 3,200 organizations has sent a letter to Members of Congress, the White House and media on the issue. You can also join the action on February 14 for the Non-Defense Discretionary United Day of Action and share the message on twitter using #NoMoreCuts.
- Congressional STEAM Caucus Launched
02-04-2013: A bipartisan team of members of Congress have launched the Congressional STEAM Caucus. The STEAM Caucus, a popular acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, which "aims to change the vocabulary of education to recognize the benefits of both the arts and sciences—and their intersections—to our country's future generations. Caucus members will work to increase awareness of the importance of STEAM education and explore new strategies to advocate for STEAM programs." The Caucus is led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D–OR) and Aaron Schock (R–IL).
- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of Senate Education Committee, to Retire
01-28-2013: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced this week that he will not seek reelection in 2014. Sen. Harkin currently serves as the Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and is the most senior education policymaker and appropriator. In the past, he has repeatedly joined with Americans for the Arts in supporting arts education measures on several occasions. Read his retirement announcement.
- Leadership Changes for Senate Education Committee
01-21-2013: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has been elected to the position of Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over education issues including reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Sen. Alexander has been supportive of arts education in the past calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for a study on access to music and arts education in the American public school system since passage of the No Child Left Behind Act.
- National Arts Advocacy Day Registration Open
01-14-2013: Dates: April 8–9, 2013. The 113th Congress has just been sworn in and will dive into debates over reducing the federal deficit through program cuts and revenue raisers that could detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations. It is imperative that arts advocates work together to help educate members of Congress about the role the arts play in spurring economic growth and job creation. Register now! If you are a national or regional organization, register now and join our legislative planning committee as we discuss the latest issues to be included in the Congressional Arts Handbook. Contact Government Affairs Manager Natalie Shoop at firstname.lastname@example.org now to participate!
- Impact of Fiscal Cliff Tax Legislation Enacted into Law
01-07-2013: Americans for the Arts is pleased that the "American Taxpayer Relief Act" avoided specifically eliminating, capping, or reducing the value of tax deductions that support nonprofit arts organizations. A summary of the legislation’s tax provisions is posted on the Americans for the Arts ARTSBlog, including more information on extending the IRA Charitable Rollover, another key tax issue we supported. We remain concerned that the threat to capping charitable deductions will be back on the table again during the next round of negotiations involving the sequestration spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling limit.