policy and advocacy
Headlines of the Week
- Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit Available
01-12-2009: Americans for the Arts has compiled an online tool kit to help arts organizations respond effectively in times of crisis. The Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit provides current information, key messaging, communications and advocacy strategies, and the research you need to make the case for keeping the arts in your community.
- Arts Included in Economic Recovery Package
01-19-2009: Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released an $825 billion economic recovery package. Included in the proposed bill is an infusion of $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (in addition to its annual appropriations) to specifically preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support. Americans for the Arts has released nine Recommendations for Economic Recovery & the Arts to help nonprofit and governmental arts groups as well as individual artists during this economic downturn.
- Arts Advocates Fight to Protect NEA Funding in Economic Recovery Package
01-26-2009: As the Senate Appropriations Committee begins considerations of the economic recovery legislation on Tuesday and the House is expected to pass their version of the package this week, arts advocates from across the country are contacting their members of Congress to ensure that funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is included. Visit the Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your members of Congress and urge them to support the NEA in the economic recovery package.
- Arts Advocates Push for NEA Funding in Final Stimulus Bill
02-02-2009: Americans for the Arts and grassroots advocates across the country are building support for funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the final economic recovery package. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the Economic Recovery Package by a vote of 244 to 188, which successfully included $50 million in supplemental grants funding for the NEA; however, the Senate bill currently does not include this funding. Write your members of Congress to urge them to support the arts in this legislation.
- Senate Cuts Arts From Economic Stimulus Bill
02-09-2009: On Friday, February 6, the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) by a wide vote margin of 73–24 that stated, “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”
If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. Write your Senators today and let them know that this vote detrimentally impacts nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in your state.
- Economic Recovery Bill Includes NEA Funding, Strikes Anti-Arts Provision
02-16-2009: On Friday, February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants. In addition to securing this critical funding, congressional and grassroots advocates were able to successfully remove a provision banning certain arts groups from receiving recovery funds they are eligible for in program areas other than at the NEA. This amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was passed in the Senate version of their bill and included language prohibiting funding for “museums, theaters, and arts centers.” Thankfully, in reconciling the two chambers’ differences between their bills, the amendment was dropped from the final legislation.
- NEA Receives $10 Million Increase in FY 2009 Omnibus Bill
02-23-2009: The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have announced the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, providing the National Endowment for the Arts with $155 million, an increase of $10 million over FY 2008. The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor later this week.
- House Passes FY 2009 Omnibus Including $10 Million NEA Increase
03-02-2009: Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which included a $10 million increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation this week, finishing in time for the president to sign on Friday.
- NEA Announces Recovery Grants to Support Arts Jobs
03-09-2009: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released grant guidelines for applying for economic stimulus and job recovery arts funds. Application dates, eligibility criteria and potential project outlines are available on the NEA's Recovery website here.
- Congress Passes $155 million for NEA and NEH
03-16-2009: Last week, Congress passed the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The bill includes a significant $10 million increase for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which sets their budgets at $155 million each. The legislation also increases the budget for Arts in Education programs at the Department of Education to $38.16 million; and the Office of Museum Services through the IMLS to $35 million.
- House Committee Announces Hearing on the Arts and the Workforce
03-23-2009: For the first time in more than 15 years, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Full Committee has announced plans to hold a series of hearings on the impact of the creative industries and their vital role in our economy. Organized by Chairman George Miller (D-CA), the hearings will “examine how the arts benefit the nation’s economy and schools—and what can be done to improve support for the arts and music fields” as the nation copes with the economic downturn. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch and Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Director and Americans for the Arts Board Member Michael Spring have been invited to provide testimony to the first hearing in this series, “The Economic and Employment Impact of the Arts and Music Industry" on Thursday, March 26, 2009. The House Education and Labor Committee is the critical legislative panel that oversees authorization of many federally funded cultural institutions and programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts. These hearings provide a unique opportunity to showcase the scope of the arts and culture sector’s importance to jobs and the economy.
- Arts Included in National Service Legislation
04-06-2009: In March, the U.S. House approved a national service bill, with an amendment offered by Rep. Crowley (D-NY) and accepted by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) that strengthens the role of the arts in the national service programs.
Last week, the Senate approved their version of national service legislation, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which included an amendment offered by Sens. Shaheen (D-NH) and Gregg (R-NH) that expressly includes music and arts education in the Education Corps activities. The amendment will encourage the use of “skilled musicians and artists to promote greater community unity through the use of music and arts education and engagement through work in low-income communities, and education, healthcare, and therapeutic settings, and other work in the public domain with citizens of all ages.” The House quickly approved of the Senate version with the music and arts language intact on March 31 by a vote of 275–149. The legislation now awaits President Obama’s signature.
- National Endowment for the Arts Announces Recovery Grants to State and Regional Arts Agencies
04-13-2009: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced $19.8 million in one-time grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to the state arts agencies and regional arts organizations to support the arts sector of the economy. Potential recipients include organizations in the performing, visual, and literary arts. See the complete list of grants and the official NEA press release for more information.
- Actor Kal Penn Joins White House as Arts Liaison
04-20-2009: Actor Kal Penn has accepted a position as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. The star of House and Harold & Kumar will serve as liaison for the arts community, as well as young people and Asian-Americans. This is the first time that there will be an outreach officer in the White House specifically assigned to the arts. For more information, please read this article from the LA Times
- Arts Advocacy Day Video Highlights Now Available
04-27-2009: On March 31, nearly 500 arts advocates from across the nation met with their representatives on Capitol Hill, calling on them to support arts-friendly legislation and policies as part of Arts Advocacy Day 2009. Video highlights from this year's conference including the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy featuring Wynton Marsalis and remarks from members of Congress and acclaimed artist Josh Groban at the Congressional Arts Breakfast are now available online.
- "Arts = Jobs" Hearing Video Now Available
05-04-2009: On Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts gathered a panel of acclaimed artists and experts to call on Congress for continued support and funding for the arts and arts education in America. This hearing, entitled “The Arts = Jobs,” focused on congressional support of strong public policies for the arts, appropriating increased public funding for the arts, and supporting arts workers. Josh Groban and Wynton Marsalis were among the artists who testified before the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), to champion the benefits of arts and arts education. See video from all the witnesses here.
- President Obama Releases FY 2010 Budget
05-11-2009: On May 7, 2009, President Obama released his detailed FY 2010 budget request to Congress, beginning the yearly appropriations process for the nation's cultural agencies and programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Museum Services, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Department of Education's Arts in Education programs. Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch noted in a press statement, "The president's proposed funding of $161 million would take the NEA to its highest funding level in 15 years and will help continue the upward trend of budgetary growth that Congress established several years ago." Read more information here.
- President Obama Nominates Rocco Landesman to Lead the NEA
05-18-2009: President Obama has nominated Rocco Landesman, president of Jujamcyn Theaters, to serve as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The White House’s official statement on his nomination noted that Landesman’s career “has been a hybrid of commercial, philanthropic, and purely artistic engagements.” Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch noted in a press statement, “I am excited to see that President Obama has made a bold choice in selecting Rocco Landesman as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. His nomination represents an important opportunity to advance the mission of the NEA to provide access to the arts for all. As evidenced in his work as a theatrical producer, Landesman has an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow the NEA to spotlight the broad spectrum of the arts in America to the nation and to the world.” Share your thoughts on the nomination and which priorities you think he should address first on ArtsBlog.
- Secretary Duncan Asked About Arts in the Classroom
05-25-2009: On Wednesday, May 20, Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan made his first visit before the full House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee to convey that education reform has the highest priority for the new administration. Duncan said, “It’s our role to make it a national priority to reform schools and help states and districts do that.” Secretary Duncan shared the administration’s primary education reform concerns ranging from addressing the high school dropout rates, expanding college affordability, lengthening the school day, and the already large amount of federal funding flowing to the states through the recently passed stimulus bill. After the testimony, the committee question and answer period contained specific inquiries from representatives including a question from Rep. Woolsey (D-CA) asking the secretary how he intends to address the narrowing of the curriculum under No Child Left Behind and its impact on arts and music. Duncan responded that students should have the full menu of options at school and that arts and music should not be viewed as extra curricular activities in public schools while they are considered standard in private schools. He also added that the administration intends to invest in arts education.
- Support the Arts in National Service - CNS Collecting Public Input
06-01-2009: On April 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which included a provision expanding the role of the arts in national service. Before the Serve America Act goes into effect on October 1, 2009, the Corporation for National Service (CNS) is sponsoring a number of opportunities for public input including conference calls and an online discussion board. For more information on the legislation and how you can voice your support for the arts in national service, please visit the CNS website.
- Mrs. Obama Praises Arts as Vital to the U.S.
06-08-2009: In mid-May, Michelle Obama visited New York City "to promote the arts, celebrating opening night at the American Ballet Theater and the reopening of part of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mrs. Obama described the nation’s creative spirit as critical to its ideals and its identity, and said the arts needed to be nurtured even during difficult economic times. 'The arts are not just a nice thing to have,' she said, adding that the arts 'define who we are as a people.'" Read more information in The New York Times.
- NEA Receives $15 Million Increase in House Subcommittee
06-22-2009: On June 10, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15 million increase for the NEA in its FY 2010 spending bill. Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring the agency's budget to $170 million.
- House Passes Interior Bill with $170 million for NEA
06-29-2009: Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $15 million increase for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for FY 2010. Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring both agencies' budgets to $170 million. Arts advocates must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding level set in the House. Please take two minutes to visit Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your Senators.
- Nation's Report Card in the Arts Released
07-06-2009: The National Center for Education Statistics released the results of the long-awaited 2008 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) on the arts on June 15. The report found significant racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic gaps in the results of both the music and visual arts assessments. The research shows that, in general, white and Asian/Pacific Islander females attending private schools in the suburbs, rural areas, or towns outperformed their peers in both visual arts and music. Due to budgetary constraints and the sheer lack of measurable programs in dance and theater, assessments in these areas were unable to be completed as a part of the 2008 NAEP on the arts. The last NAEP on the arts was conducted in 1997, and the next one isn’t scheduled until 2016. United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued a statement on the NAEP release.
- NEA Announces Economic Stimulus Direct Grants
07-13-2009: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced their direct grants as part of the $50 million federal economic stimulus recovery package. The NEA will distribute $29.775 million to 631 nonprofit arts groups nationwide. This is in addition to the 63 state and regional sub-grants previously awarded in April, totaling $19.8 million. Share the news with your local media outlets about the impact these dollars are making in your community!
- Arts Education Receives Increase in House Subcommittee
07-20-2009: The House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee has passed their funding bill, which included a proposed $2 million increase for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, bringing the total budget to $40.16 million for FY 2010. The programs are currently funded at $38.1 million for FY 2009. Write your members of Congress in support of this funding today!
- Senate to Begin Consideration of Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations
07-27-2009: This week, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will begin consideration of the FY 2010 funding bill. This legislation sets the appropriations level for both the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Arts in Education programs (AIE) at the U.S. Department of Education. Last week, the full U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, which includes a $2 million increase for AIE. Write your Senators and urge them to fully fund these programs!
- Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Arts in Education Increase
08-03-2009: The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the FY 2010 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, which includes $40 million for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education. The programs are currently funded at $38.1 million for FY 2009. The full Senate will consider this legislation when they return after the August recess.
- NEA and NEH Chairs Confirmed
08-10-2009: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and former Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair. For more information, view our alert.
- Arts Groups Call on Congress for Healthcare Reform
08-17-2009: Americans for the Arts and a coalition of 20 national arts organizations have issued a statement to Congress urging legislators to support reforms that address critical healthcare cost and coverage issues to the nonprofit arts organizations at the state and local levels, as well as individual artists across the country.
- Americans for the Arts Launches serve.artsusa.org
08-24-2009: Americans for the Arts is happy to announce the launch of a new web portal dedicated to promoting community service opportunities for arts groups, arts volunteers, and artists nationwide. Serve.artsusa.org is a place for volunteers in the arts to share stories and upload photos and videos related to their volunteer experiences. Inspired by President Obama, Americans for the Arts is leading the nation’s arts sector to be an active participant in this national service initiative. Please visit the website to showcase your personal or professional volunteer stories, videos, and pictures, which we will then compile and share with the White House, Congress, and the media. Read the official press release here.
- Americans for the Arts Remembers Sen. Edward Kennedy
08-31-2009: The national arts community joins together to remember the legacy of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most effective legislative leaders for the arts throughout his 46 years of service in the U.S. Senate. He powerfully advocated the need to nurture creativity and to broaden access to artistic excellence in the U.S. Senate, and his leadership extended to co-founding and co-chairing the Senate Arts Caucus. Read Americans for the Arts' official statement and the blog post from President and CEO Bob Lynch.
- Senate Considers Travel Promotion Legislation
09-07-2009: As Congress returns from August recess this week, the Senate is scheduled to begin consideration for the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. Americans for the Arts supports the basic principles of this bill, which we believe will greatly increase tourism in this country; however, this legislation currently does not specifically address cultural tourism issues. Write your Representatives and Senators today to urge them to support inclusion of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in this bill!
- New Report Shows Cost of Healthcare Critical to Arts Nonprofits
09-14-2009: The Center for Civil Society Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies recently released a new report on the impact escalating health insurance costs are having on the workers in the nation’s nonprofits including the arts sector. Read the study results here.
- Senate Considers FY 2010 Interior Appropriations
09-21-2009: This week, the U.S. Senate continues consideration of HR 2996, the FY 2010 Interior appropriations bill, which includes funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The House of Representatives has already passed its appropriations legislation, which included a FY 2010 $15 million increase for both the NEA and NEH. The Senate and the administration have proposed a $6 million increase for those agencies. Once the Senate passes its measures, they can be reconciled into a final version and sent to the president for his signature.
- Senate Passes FY 2010 Interior Appropriations Bill
09-28-2009: The Senate passed the FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill by a vote of 77-21, which included proposed funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities at $161.3 million each. This number is in line with the Obama administration's $6 million increase over the $155 million FY 2009 appropriation, but is $9 million below the House passed proposed funding level of $170 million considered this past June. With Senate passage, the next step is to reconcile the two measures into a final conference report in the coming weeks.
- Congress Passes Continuing Resolution Through October 31
10-05-2009: As expected, Congress delayed finalizing appropriations legislation and passed a continuing resolution to keep the government running through October 31. This legislation will keep funds flowing to all federal agencies at fiscal 2009 levels, and give Congress more time to work through the appropriations process.
- White House Proclaims October as National Arts and Humanities Month
10-12-2009: Held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts, National Arts and Humanities Month is the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the nation. This year, Americans for the Arts is pleased to circulate the official proclamation issued by the White House in support of National Arts and Humanities Month. Unlike "letters of support" from previous administrations, this year's message is significant and historic because it is the first time that National Arts and Humanities Month has been recognized by an official Presidential Proclamation.
- Senate Finance Committee Includes Healthcare Reform Help for Artists and Nonprofits
10-19-2009: After weeks of intense negotiations and a lengthy amendment process, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee completed work on the fifth and final congressional committee-level healthcare reform legislation. The bill, now awaiting consideration for passage on the Senate floor, contains good news for small nonprofits. These organizations will be able to apply a tax credit against their federal withholding taxes as a key incentive for extending and maintaining healthcare coverage to employees. Partly because of the efforts of a national coalition of nonprofit organizations that included Americans for the Arts, Finance Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) included a provision that would seek to achieve nonprofit parity with for-profit employers who currently have an array of incentives to expand coverage in every version of healthcare legislation being considered. The bill also includes the creation of a new insurance marketplace that will allow both individuals, such as self-employed artists and small nonprofit organizations, to compare and buy health insurance plans at competitive prices.
- Interior Appropriations Conference Report Expected
10-26-2009: House and Senate negotiators are working on reconciling differences between their versions of the FY 2010 Interior Appropriations Bill, and are expected to release their final conference report this week. Earlier this year, the House passed version of the bill included $170 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, while the Senate legislation proposes $161.3 million. A final appropriations level will be decided in the conference report released this week.
- NEA Budget to Receive $12.5 Million Boost
11-02-2009: Last week, Congress passed a $12.5 million funding increase as part of the FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The nation's two federal grantmaking cultural agencies will now each have budgets of $167.5 million, their highest funding levels in 16 years. As so many state and local governments have had to cut arts budgets across the country, this well-timed federal appropriations increase for the arts is a welcome infusion of funds.
- Travel Promotion Bill Passes House
11-09-2009: The Senate version of the Travel Promotion Act (S.1023) was attached to a noncontroversial measure and passed in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation would create a public-private partnership to promote travel to the United States, and help the United States compete with other countries by sending more welcoming messages to our friends around the world. However, this legislation currently does not specifically address cultural tourism issues nor does it include direct representation of the nonprofit arts and culture sector within its proposed policies and programs. We will continue to work with several members of Congress who have pushed for cultural tourism support including Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
- President Obama Makes Appointments to President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities
11-16-2009: President Obama appointed 25 members to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH), which works to initiate and support key programs of the federal cultural agencies and to recognize excellence in the fields of arts and humanities. To see the full list of appointments and find more information about PCAH, visit the website.
- Final Year-End Appropriations Expected
12-07-2009: With the end of the year approaching, several appropriations bills are still outstanding and include funding for the arts, like Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education and funding for the Office of Museum Services at the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Congress is expected to recess by December 23, and it is unclear whether they will wrap up all unresovled funding in a catch-all omnibus bill or pass another continuing resolution keeping the government operating at last year's funding levels.
- Congress Finalizes Arts Education, Museum Programs Increase
12-14-2009: With time running out on the first session of the 111th Congress, there are still several of pieces of legislation that must be approved before adjournment. Among these items were unfinished FY 2010 appropriations bills that were bundled into omnibus legislation and passed by Congress over the weekend. While the legislation needs to be signed by the president later this week, it appears that the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education will receive an approximately $2 million increase, from $38.1 million to $40 million. Most of this increase is directed to the Model Development & Dissemination Program, which will provide for a new round of their competitive grants next year to fund key arts education programs across the country. The Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum & Library Services saw an approximate $200,000 increase from FY 2009 to total funding of just over $35 million for FY 2010.