Preparing Your Organization and Your Donors for Shifts in the Charitable Tax Deduction

On January 1, the 2018 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act went into effect, a substantial change to the U.S. tax code which has the potential to negatively impact arts and culture nonprofit organizations in a variety of ways. One of the most significant impacts will come in changes related to the thresholds and amounts associated with the charitable tax deduction. This 100-year-old provision was designed to stimulate giving to charities and other organizations serving the public good by providing an opportunity to claim a deduction as a reduction in an individual’s tax burden. While the repercussions of the federal tax code changes are still emerging, and corresponding shifts in state-by-state tax policy may impact your situation, the notes that follow are an introductory primer. If you have questions about state-level implications, we recommend you reach out to your state comptroller or state association of nonprofits.

Arts Advocacy Day Is Coming

Although years may really just be a number, in its 31 years, Arts Advocacy Day has seen six different U.S. presidents spanning both political parties. It’s witnessed sixteen different congressional sessions and eight different Speakers of the U.S. House. Through it all, every year, attendees hear that “the arts are bipARTtisan.” Because, no matter who’s in office, arts advocacy matters. Funding decisions are made every year. Who’s deciding this year may not be deciding next year. Who’s to remember what happened before? Who’s to know why it matters? Who’s to learn from each other? The answer is us. All of us. All of us together.

Americans for the Arts Joins Federal Amicus Brief in Support of Free Speech Rights of Congressional Art Competition Student Artist

Americans for the Arts joined 17 national, state, and local arts service organizations urging reversal of a ruling that permitted Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers to remove a painting by St. Louis high school student David Pulphus from a Congressional Art Competition exhibit at the U.S. Capitol. His allegorical post-Ferguson painting depicts a civil rights demonstration and includes two police officers with boar heads; one is pointing his gun at a protester with the head of wolf. The painting was removed under pressure from a small group of Congressmen, with the contention that the exhibition was “government speech” which the government could censor at will. 

Each spring, SHAKE 38 gives Shakespeare back to St. Louis residents, artists, performers, and fans of his work in a marathon celebration of the Bard’s 38 plays. Since its first year in 2010, SHAKE 38 has grown from a 38-hour performance by 200 artists to a five-day event attracting over 1,500 artists from across the region and dozens of diverse community partners.

Only one rule exists for participants: Make the play happen any way you see fit. The result is a dazzling array of events across the St. Louis area, designed for a variety of audiences to enjoy.

Unexpected Insights

You have to remember, legislators spend their days with adults worried about infrastructure, healthcare, and taxes, all of which are legitimate concerns. However, the needs of high school students and their right to a well-rounded education are just as important as all those. As Ben Martin, Executive Director of the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education always told me, “They work for you!” So, we have just as much right to meet and express our sometimes surprising insights as anyone else.

“To My Fellow Combat Veterans”

I taught theatre in Lee’s Summit, MO for many years and had the privilege to work with many wonderful students. One of them I truly treasured was Richard Gibson, who went on to enlist in the Marines after high school and serve his country with honor. Richard wrote a letter in response to the budget situation facing the Missouri Legislature this year. From his words, I hope all elected officials realize the value of the arts in education. Adequate funding for schools keep arts programs alive. Public investment in arts agencies allows institutions in large cities and rural communities alike to provide arts opportunities for their citizens.

What if no one shows up?

I started using birdseed to draw six-foot intricate designs on the ground in a futile attempt to arrest change and explore fragility in social situations. My first public artwork, Seed the Change, was a chance to scale up these explorations of labor, change, and collaboration in a monumental fashion. My hope for Seed the Change was that it highlighted the city’s human potential, creating a welcoming space shaped by its people that embodies the beauty of labors of love, conversation, and individual expression.

CLOUD HOUSE, Springfield, Missouri

This was the first ever permanent interactive public sculpture created in the City of Springfield (population 167,319), and with this size budget. Not only did the work provoke conversations around “exploring the local, questions of ecology and dissecting the systems that make up our everyday experiences,” Cloud House has also provoked conversations about the power of art. 

Hard data makes a case for the arts in Springfield

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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Nonprofit arts leaders in Springfield, Missouri have always known that arts and culture play a crucial role in the local economy, but now they have hard data to prove it. Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a new study by Americans for the Arts, reports that Springfield arts and culture nonprofits generate $26.9 million in economic activity annually.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: How the Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry Impacts the Economy in Your Community

When recently asked how best to advocate for the arts in the current environment, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (NM)—co-chair of the Senate Cultural Caucus and chief sponsor of the CREATE Act—was unequivocal: “Start by telling every one of your Senators about the economic benefits of the arts.” This familiar refrain is one we have heard for decades from city council chambers to governor mansions to the halls of Congress—and it works. Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 does just that. It changes the conversation about the arts from that of a “charity” to one about an “industry” that provides both cultural and economic benefits to the community.

Americans for the Arts Unveils Findings from Fifth National Economic Impact Study of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations and Their Audiences

Study Demonstrates That Nonprofit Arts Are An Economic, Employment Powerhouse

Saturday, June 17, 2017

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A new national study by Americans for the Arts finds that the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity in 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. This activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. 

ST. LOUIS -- Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ production of The Winter’s Tale opens at 8 p.m., on Fri., June 2, at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. Highlights to this year’s production include original music composed by St. Louis-based The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra, a diverse cast under the direction of four-time Festival director Bruce Longworth, and the unveiling of Schlafly’s custom-labeled draft beer, The Winter’s Ale.

Annual Convention Saturday Keynote Announced

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will share her thoughts on the role of the arts in today's political climate

Monday, May 8, 2017

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will share her thoughts on the role of the arts in today's political climate in the June 17 keynote plenary session at Americans for the Arts' Annual Convention.

Americans for the Arts Statement on Bipartisan Agreement to Fund the Nation’s Federal Cultural Agencies and Programs for FY2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert L. Lynch issued a statement following the signing of the bipartisan agreement. 

Pre-Order Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Materials

Fifth National Arts and Culture Economic Impact Study to be Released June 17

Friday, May 5, 2017

Now is the time to preorder study publications detailing results of  the fifth national Arts Economic & Prosperity study, with data from 341 partners across the country to share with stakeholders in your community, including mayors, board members, business and community leaders and other elected officials.

Advocacy & Arts: Have You Seen the Ads?

Elected leaders care deeply about the areas they represent and the views of their constituents who elect them every few years. They may not agree with what they think, but they do care to know what they think—and it is certainly one key factor that weighs on how they cast their votes, what issues they focus on, and what areas they deepen their knowledge. Since we know that ads bring attention to issues, inspire and educate the public, and mobilize grassroots, they are one great way to invite data and impact stories that can lead to policy change. And, we know that legislators read their local newspapers, so the message gets through.

New Data Showcase Economic Impact of Arts and Culture in U.S. and States

Arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product—$729.6 billion—in 2014

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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Sure, Broadway and Hollywood employ lots of creative people. But when it comes to artistic and cultural work, not all the action is on the coasts. New data show arts and culture account for a larger share of jobs in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado than they do nationally. For the first time, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has produced statistics spotlighting the economic impact of arts and cultural activities in each state and the District of Columbia.

The Nation’s Report Card in the Arts is Released

The 2016 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the Arts is Released by the National Assessment Governing Board

Monday, April 24, 2017

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On Tuesday, April 25, the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics releases results of The Nation's Report Card: 2016 Arts. This report will demonstrate national Grade 8 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, including findings by demographic subgroups and region. The release event will explore what the data show about student skills and how the availability of resources and opportunities in arts education may shape these skills.

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