policy and advocacy
Headlines of the Week
- Americans for the Arts Participates in "Preserve Giving-DC" Day on Capitol Hill
12-10-2012: On December 5, Americans for the Arts joined over 250 coalition members representing the diversity of the charitable sector in asking Members of Congress and President Obama to preserve the charitable deduction by meeting with congressional leaders on "Preserve Giving – DC" Day. Debates over looming scheduled tax increases and major federal spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" have renewed troubling proposals that seek to reduce, in value, or eliminate traditional tax incentives to charity. Coalition partners carried the message that now is not the time to disincentive charitable contributions as nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion in important human services including providing access to the arts and culture.
- Rocco Landesman to Retire as NEA Chair
12-03-2012: Rocco Landesman confirmed his plans to step down as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts at the end of the calendar year. Read the statement from Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch here.
- FY 2013 Appropriations Omnibus Bill Still Possible
11-26-2012: While the government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) level funding agencies until March 2013, committee staff on Capitol Hill are working to prepare an omnibus appropriations bill. Talks surrounding the fiscal cliff debates have left 2013 funding circumstances uncertain, however, legislators are making a new push to work out appropriations issues in an omnibus bill so they can release disaster aid to in relief of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Read more about the process here.
- Fiscal Cliff Discussions Likely to Include Charitable Deduction
11-19-2012: President Obama and congressional leaders have begun discussions on the tax increases and spending reductions set to take effect in January. One proposal that seems to be gaining support on both sides of the aisle is a cap on itemized deductions for either all taxpayers or only those in the higher income tax brackets. Americans for the Arts is monitoring the effects these proposals could have on all nonprofit arts organizations. Write your members of Congress about this issue here.
- Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund Release Election Impact Statement on the Arts
11-12-2012: Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund President and CEO Robert L. Lynch released a statement on the Election Day results and what they mean for the arts. Read and share the full statement. For further election analysis, sign up for the webinar on Friday, November 16.
- Americans for the Arts Government Affairs Staff to Present Post-Election Webinar
11-05-2012: The Government Affairs staff of Americans for the Arts will present a 2012 Post-Election Analysis on the Arts Webinar on November 16 at 2:00 pm EST/11:00 am PST. In this webinar, they will provide a comprehensive analysis of federal, state and local election results and ballot initiatives, and what impact those results will have on the future of the arts and arts education. Find more information or register online here.
- Presidential Campaigns Raise Charitable Deduction Impacting Nonprofit Arts
10-22-2012: Policy details have surfaced regarding potential changes to the tax code that may impact the arts. GOP candidate Mitt Romney made remarks to the press and in the October 3 presidential debate suggesting a limitation on itemized deductions like the charitable deduction from as much as $50,000 to as little as $17,000. He also left open the possibility that higher income households could see an even narrower cap on deductibility or possibly its elimination. Currently, a sizable majority of those higher income households donate more than $50,000. Gov. Romney argued that this type of restriction would enable a tax cut for all income groups as part of comprehensive tax reform. Nonprofit arts groups and other charitable organizations rely on individual donors and critical incentives to giving like the charitable deduction. In initial analysis, the deduction's value would be severely hampered by this proposal. At this time, the Romney campaign has not published details of the plan. Americans for the Arts continues to work with a wide range of charitable organizations and Independent Sector to encourage preservation of giving incentives.
- Urge Congress to Preserve Charitable Giving Incentives
10-08-2012: Comprehensive tax reform has been one of the central issues Congress has said they want to resolve during the lame duck session after the election. While the result of the election will have an effect on the charitable deduction's policy direction, the lame duck session promises to be fast-paced with precious little time for constituents and advocates to express their opinions. Please take the opportunity during this recess to urge your member of Congress to preserve charitable incentives.
- U.S. Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Release Draft FY 2013 Bill
10-01-2012: The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has released their draft FY 2013 funding legislation, which includes $154.255 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. This funding matches the level set in President Obama's budget request, and is higher than the $132 million proposed by their counterparts on the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Read more information in the subcommittee's press release.
- Congress Recesses Until After November Election
09-24-2012: The U.S. Congress has recessed until after the November elections so that members can return to their home districts to campaign. They will come back after the election for a "lame duck" session, when they will try to tackle a backlog of unfinished business. Before they recessed, the Senate passed the Continuing Resolution that will avoid a shutdown and keep government agencies and programs operating until March 27, 2013. The House had passed this bill on September 13 and President Obama is expected to sign it later this week.
- OMB Sequester Report Confirms 8.2% Cut to NEA
09-17-2012: The White House released the Office of Management and Budget's report on the impact of the automatic spending cuts set to begin in January. The report confirms that $12 million each would be cut from NEA and NEH (8.2 percent). The report calls for any changes to the sequester law to be a "balanced plan" and that the sequester would be "deeply destructive" to national security, domestic investments and core government functions. Read the full report here [PDF].
- Celebrate National Arts Education Week, September 9-15
09-10-2012: As declared by the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2010, the second Sunday of September marks the beginning of National Arts in Education Week. Americans for the Arts is celebrating by hosting a Blog Salon on arts education and the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Read, share, and join in the discussion as 15 education and arts education experts tackle the topic in posts published throughout the week.
- ArtsVote to Hold Events at Republican National Convention
08-27-2012: As a part of the ArtsVote2012 national initiative, which is geared toward ensuring that the arts impact federal elections, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund will be hosting a panel discussion on the future of arts and arts education in America at the Republican National Convention. Speakers include former New York Yankee and Latin Grammy Award-nominated artist Bernie Williams and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). Visit the Arts Action Fund for more information.
- Stopgap Measure to Fund Government Agencies Including the NEA Until March
08-20-2012: Before heading back to their districts for the August recess, Congress agreed to a stopgap funding measure called a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government running until March. This measure was put in place to avoid a showdown over a potential government shutdown before the election season as lawmakers have not yet finalized any of the 13 yearly spending bills, and the new fiscal year starts October 1. It is expected that cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts will be funded close to their FY 2012 levels until a final agreement can be reached.
- Congress in Recess for August
08-06-2012: Congress has recessed for its summer district work period for the month of August. Members will return on Monday, September 10 to continue work on appropriations legislation for FY 2013, including funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
- U.S. House Subcommittee Proposes Termination of Arts Education Program
07-23-2012: The U.S. House subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of Education met last week to consider their FY 2013 appropriations bill and proposed termination of the Arts in Education program as they have in previous years. While further movement on this legislation is not expected until later this fall, write your legislators in support of arts education.
- U.S. House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Scheduled to Meet this Week
07-16-2012: The U.S. House subcommittee that funds the U.S. Dept of Education is scheduled to consider their FY 2013 appropriations bill this Wednesday, July 18. As the subcommittee has done in previous years, we expect them to terminate the Arts in Education program. While further movement on this legislation is not expected until later this Fall, write your legislators in support of arts education here.
- Transportation Bill Eliminates Federal Public Art Support
07-09-2012: Congress has passed a two-year reauthorization of federal transportation programs, including revised language impacting the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, which since 1991 has supported public art, design, historic preservation, museums, and landscaping. Under the new legislation, the TE program is re-named Transportation Alternatives and consolidates the current 12 eligible activity categories into six and removes public art as a specific eligible activity—making it no longer eligible to receive federal funds. The only remaining arts-related TE eligibility is for historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities. For further background on the TE program and our advocacy efforts, please see this blog post on the subject from November 2011.
- House Appropriations Committee Passes $132 Million for NEA
07-02-2012: Last week, the full House Committee on Appropriations passed the FY 2013 Interior Subcommittee legislation, which includes $132 million each for the NEA and NEH. This is the same level passed by the subcommittee in the previous week. The next step in the process is for the bill to come to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- House Subcommittee Recommends 10% Cut to NEA
06-25-2012: Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies passed its initial FY 2013 funding legislation with a cut of $14 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Subcommittee, which has funding jurisdiction over the NEA, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and other cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian, is recommending a 10 percent decrease compared to last year’s level of $146.3 million. The U.S. Senate has not yet considered its version of the spending legislation. Write your legislators about this issue here!
- $26.5 million included for Arts in Education Programs in Senate Bill
06-18-2012: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2013 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill last week, which includes $26.5 million for the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). The USDE is currently administering approximately $25 million in AIE funds in FY 2012. The U.S. House of Representatives has taken no action on its funding bills yet.
- Enormous Workload Expected in Congress This Fall
06-04-2012: With so much unfinished business piling up before the elections, the U.S. Congress is projected to have a large workload when they reconvene for a "Lame Duck" session after the elections. Read more about the process and the potential impact on the arts in this ARTSblog post.
- Two Senators Join Senate Cultural Caucus
05-21-2012: Senators Al Fraken (D-MN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have joined the Senate Cultural Caucus bringing the total number of members to 37. The Caucus is currently co-chaired by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
- Artist-Museum Partnership Act Gains 18 Cosponsors
05-07-2012: Since National Arts Advocacy Day on April 16-17, a key piece of arts legislation has seen an increase in cosponsors. The bipartisan Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which would allow artists to take a fair-market value deduction for their donated works, now has a total of 33 cosponsors. This total has increased since Arts Advocacy Day, where this legislation was included in the action items grassroots advocates asked their members of Congress to sponsor.
- Americans for the Arts Provides Testimony to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
04-30-2012: Americans for the Arts has submitted testimony to the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as part of the annual funding process. Read the full testimony.
- Sen. Tom Harkin Releases Arts and Arts Education Statement on Senate Floor
04-23-2012: In honor of Arts Advocacy Day on April 17, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) delivered a statement in support of the arts and arts education on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Read the full statement here.
- National Arts Advocacy Day on Tuesday
04-16-2012: National Arts Advocacy Day is April 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country will come together in support of the arts and arts education. Ovation CEO Charles Segars and actor Hill Harper are honorary co-chairs of the event. If you are not able to attend, you can follow the action at #AAD12 on Twitter.
- Secretary Arne Duncan to Appear Before U.S. House Education Committee this Week
03-26-2012: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to appear before the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee on March 28. We expect that he will discuss issues realted to well-rounded education that could include arts education. Watch the live webcast here.
- NEA Appropriations Cycle Begins with Americans for the Arts Witness
03-19-2012: With the release of President Obama's budget this past February, the House of Representatives is set to officially start the FY 2013 appropriations process in earnest. Congressional hearings in the 13 separate subcommittees will pack the legislative agenda for much of March with an eye toward marking-up initial spending proposals in late April after a planned congressional recess. On March 22, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch and award-winning actor Stanley Tucci will both testify at a public witness hearing before the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee in support of the National Endowment for the Arts increase and on behalf of federal cultural funding.
- Congressional Arts Caucus Gains New Members
03-05-2012: The Congressional Arts Caucus has added two new members bringing its current total to 186. New members are Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Tim Griffin (R-AR). See the full list of members here.
- Arts Education Raised in House Education Committee Hearing
02-20-2012: A hearing on legislation to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act included significant discussion on arts education due to one of the witnesses being a Colorado arts teacher. Following outreach by Americans for the Arts, Congressional Arts Caucus co-chair Todd Platts, caucus member Rep. Bobby Scott, and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa all raised arts learning as important to the underlying K-12 issues being considered by the committee. Colorado Springs arts teacher Felicia Kazmier spoke about the need for more funding and accountability in supporting arts education. For further information please contact Senior Director of Federal Affairs & Arts Education Narric Rome at email@example.com
- President's Budget Request Boosts NEA Funding for FY 2013
02-13-2012: The Obama administration released its federal budget blueprint for FY 2013 with an $8 million increase in funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This proposal would bring the NEA’s funding to $154 million compared to last year’s appropriation of $146 million. For more information, read Americans for the Arts CEO Robert L. Lynch’s statement here.
- House Transportation Committee Approves Bill Weakening Public Art Funding
02-06-2012: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill last week that could weaken funding for public art. In this new legislation, items such as the establishment of transportation museums, historic preservation, and rehabilitation of historic transportation buildings are no longer eligible for funding in the Transportation Enhancements (TE) section of the bill. Also, the committee repealed the 10 percent set aside for the TE program, which means that those funds are no longer explicitly available for these activities. This bill will now be brought to the House floor, so contact your members of Congress now!
- House Transportation Committee Threatens Funding for Public Art and Museums
01-30-2012: On February 2, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to consider legislation that could end federal support for public art projects through the Transportation Enhancements program. Find more information about the program here. Please write you member of Congress today to convey the message that the Transportation Enhancements program should continue supporting public art and museums!
- Americans for the Arts' President and CEO Robert Lynch Appointed to U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board
01-23-2012: U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson has appointed Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch to a two-year term on the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. Bryson stated, Lynch’s “experience in the travel and tourism industry will be an important resource to me as well as to the Board in advising me on ways to strengthen the industry, expand economic opportunities for American businesses, and create jobs.” Read the press release here.
- Draft House Education Legislation Seeks to End Arts Education Program
01-16-2012: Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education has introduced long-awaited legislation to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (also recognized as the No Child Left Behind Act). While the legislation maintains the arts as a core academic subject, it also would terminate the federal Arts in Education program which has been in place for the last 10 years. Bipartisan Senate committee legislation was approved in October 2011, however this House legislation does not have bipartisan support, which is expected to delay consideration of the bill for the immediate future. For more information, please contact Senior Director of Federal Affairs & Arts Education Narric Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unfinished Tax Business Includes IRA Charitable Rollover
01-09-2012: A package of charitable giving incentives, which includes the IRA Charitable Rollover, expired at the end of 2011 with Congress failing to extend them. Legislators hope to wrap up this unfinished tax business before April 15. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released a statement vowing "to find a bipartisan path forward" for these tax extenders, adding that "it is critical to extend these tax provisions early in the year to maximize their effect and provide certainty for the 2012 tax year."