Sequester Cuts Cultural Agencies

Posted by Gladstone Payton On March - 4 - 2013
Gladstone Payton

Gladstone Payton

As you have no doubt been following in the headlines, specific parts of the federal budget, including that of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), have been impacted by a budgetary control called “sequestration” beginning last Friday.

This sequester, totaling $85 billion, will reduce funding to almost all areas of domestic social programs by about 5 percent, which would mean about $7.3 million at the NEA.

This cut has been expected ever since the congressional “supercommittee” of 2011 failed to find agreement on how to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, either through spending cuts, raising revenue, or by a combination of both.

Since the possibility of the sequester was triggered, the White House’s Office of Management & Budget has alerted impacted federal agencies to prepare for it by withholding grant competitions, utilizing employee furloughs, reduced service, and other budget cutting actions.

Because the sequester is an “across-the-board” cut to federal agencies, it reaches indiscriminately into every identified program and activity.

The NEA, the U.S. Department of Education (which administers the federal Arts in Education program) and many other cultural agencies such as the Smithsonian, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and others were forced to order these cuts by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 1.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pushing Charities Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Posted by Gladstone Payton On December - 18 - 2012

Gladstone Payton

Last week, I had the privilege of leading a diverse group of advocates from across the spectrum of the charitable sector to congressional offices in support of the Charitable Giving Coalition’s “Protect Giving – D.C. Days.”

You cannot escape talk of the oft-mentioned “fiscal cliff” and the looming lethal combination of major federal spending reductions (sequester) and expiring tax cuts (Bush-Obama tax extensions) set to take effect in January 2013.

“Protect Giving – D.C.” is an ongoing attempt to raise the direct policy concerns of the nation’s charitable sector and the possible devastating effect that last-minute negotiations to thwart the cliff may have on the tax policies around contributions to charity.

Needed: Federal Revenue

I warned in a previous post last June that the resulting mess that occurred after the failed “supercommittee” and debt limit deals of 2011 would probably complicate the bargaining positions of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress as they struggle to forge an agreement to spare us some of the pain.

I hate to be right on this one…currently, they are at loggerheads on how to get more money returning to the federal coffers and avert the cliff. Read the rest of this entry »

Economies and Diseconomies of Scale in the Arts

Posted by Ian David Moss On December - 4 - 2012

Ian David Moss

How does scale influence impact in the arts?

In 2007, back when I was a fresh-faced grad student, I actually addressed this question head on in the eighth post ever published on Createquity. I argued pretty strongly that scale in the arts was a myth, or at least not salient to the same extent as in other fields:

“It’s not that I don’t think large arts organizations do good work, or that they don’t deserve to be supported. What I’m going to argue instead is that there is a tendency among many institutional givers to direct their resources toward organizations that have well-developed support infrastructure, long histories, and vast budgets, and in a lot of ways it’s a tendency that doesn’t make much sense (or at the very least, could use some balance).

For one thing, those well-developed support infrastructures don’t come cheap. Consider the case of Carnegie Hall… [snip]

In contrast, small arts organizations are extraordinarily frugal with their resources, precisely because they have no resources of which to speak. It’s frankly amazing to me what largely unheralded art galleries, musical ensembles, theater companies, dance troupes, and performance art collectives are able accomplish with essentially nothing but passion on their side.

A $5,000 contribution that would barely get you into the sixth-highest donor category at Carnegie might radically transform the livelihood of an organization like this. Suddenly, they might be able to buy some time in the recording studio, or hire an accompanist for rehearsals, or redo that floor in the lobby, or even (gasp) PAY their artists! All of which previously had seemed inconceivable because of the poverty that these organizations grapple with.” Read the rest of this entry »

Full U.S. House Considering Amendment to Further Cut NEA

Posted by Narric Rome On July - 28 - 2011

For an update on the Walberg amendment to H.R. 2584, click here!

Last night, during consideration of H.R. 2584, the House Interior Appropriations bill, debate was completed on an amendment by Rep. Tim Walberg’s (MI) to cut $10.6 million more from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (ID) gave strong support for the agency and the $135 million appropriation, urging defeat of this amendment. Thanks to coordination by the Congressional Arts Caucus, Reps. Jim Moran (VA), Louise Slaughter (NY), David Cicilline (RI), Lynn Woolsey (CA), John Yarmuth (KY), Rush Holt (NJ), Bobby Scott (VA), and Betty McCollum (MN) all gave effective and passionate speeches of support in opposing this amendment.

Today, the House will vote on the Walberg amendment. The exact timing of the vote has not yet been decided since it will part of a bloc of votes held over from yesterday’s debate.

Americans for the Arts is coordinating with Congressional Arts Caucus staff to defeat the Walberg amendment and we will update you when further action takes place.

There is still time to contact your House member in support of NEA funding.

South Carolina Governor Vetoes Arts Funding

Posted by admin On June - 28 - 2011

Editors Note: Click here for an update on this story.

In response to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to veto funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission, Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, issued the following statement:

“In vetoing funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), Gov. Nikki Haley offers another unfortunate example of newly-elected gubernatorial leadership being out of touch with the wishes of voters for ideological reasons.

Betty Plumb, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance states, ‘South Carolinians have spoken and the General Assembly has listened. The budget is balanced, and it includes the arts. The state’s small investment in the arts yields significant, statewide returns for education, quality of life, and our economy. The support and services the arts commission provides make a positive difference in our communities and schools. We don’t need to sacrifice this valuable public asset when there is no practical necessity to do so.’  Read the rest of this entry »

A New Chapter for the Arts in Kansas

Posted by Brad Anderson On June - 1 - 2011

Brad Anderson

On Saturday, May 28, 2011, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback used his power to line item veto funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. This action makes Kansas unique in the nation as now being the only state without a fully funded and functional arts agency.

The action came after months of heated debate between a conservative house of representatives and more moderate senate that finally agreed to continue funding for at least another year. Brownback had other plans.

Not only does his action prevent over $1.2 million in National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-America Arts Alliance funding, it also creates significant problems for agencies all over the state who were depending on operational support that comes from the KAC and NEA.

Brownback suggests the arts can thrive by developing private funding sources to sustain programming but has yet to answer where the ‘new’ dollars are supposed to come from and does not take in to account the significant support many large and small agencies have already solicited from the private sector.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Kansas Arts: 5,000+ Voices Versus One

Posted by Jay Dick On May - 31 - 2011

Jay Dick

As you probably know, Gov. Brownback issued a line item veto of the Kansas Arts Commission’s budget during the holiday weekend. Before too much time passes, I want to share some of my thoughts on the situation:

This isn’t about money.

While the governor’s veto “saved” the Kansas treasury just under $700,000, they are no longer eligible for the approximately $800,000 in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, nor a $400,000 contract from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Thus, by my math, Kansas is losing $500,000 this year, which does not take into account other things such as the five employees of the arts commission who now are looking for a job and probably will be drawing unemployment.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas Becomes First State Without Arts Agency

Posted by Tim Mikulski On May - 28 - 2011

Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission today (May 28), thereby ending a scuffle with the legislature, which funded the commission over his objections.

According to the Associated Press, Gov. Brownback said:

“The arts will continue to thrive in Kansas when funded by private donations, and I intend to personally involve myself in efforts to make this happen.”

In light of this action, the following statement has been released by Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch:

Americans for the Arts is disappointed with Governor Sam Brownback’s decision to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) by vetoing the legislative branch’s budget for the agency. His action not only robs the citizens of his state of access to quality arts programming, but is also a direct affront to his campaign platform to create jobs and rebuild the state’s economy. Kansas now holds the dubious distinction of being the only state without a functioning state agency in charge of promoting the arts and culture.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Federal FY11 Appropriations Battle & The Arts

Posted by Narric Rome On April - 15 - 2011

Narric Rome

The story of how the federal government funded the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education really began on November 2, 2010.

Election Day delivered a major change of power in Washington with the GOP regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and tightening the margin of control in the U.S. Senate.

With the GOP set to take control of the House in January, the House Democrats found themselves unable to pass a FY2011 budget and had to settle for a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until March 3, 2011.

This CR funded the National Endowment for the Arts at $167.5 million and the Arts in Education program was provided $40 million – which was the same amount they received the prior year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Funding Cut in Two-Week Budget Fix

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 3 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Although Congress quickly avoided a government shutdown this week, arts education funding somehow managed to get caught up in the two-week continuing resolution Band-Aid that was passed by both the House and Senate yesterday.

While the Continuing Resolution (CR) keeps the government running for another two weeks, it also makes a $4 billion cut in domestic spending, including a number of federal education programs.

Among the programs designated for cuts is the total elimination of funding for the Department of Education’s $40 million Arts in Education program. This program funds a large number of arts education activities across in the country, including the Kennedy Center’s arts education efforts and VSA, the international organization on arts and disability. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections on Blagojevich, the economy, and the New Year

Posted by Scarlett Swerdlow On December - 24 - 2008

With the New Year approaching and my mood being reflective, I’ve been thinking about the challenges we will face in 2009.

How will we turn the economy around and strengthen the American spirit?  How will Illinois reclaim its political process and reshape its identity?  How will we support and protect the most vulnerable despite diminishing resources?  How will I lose 5 pounds when Sharon brings me chocolate cookies covered with chocolate-covered cherries?

To talk more about the challenges that the arts face – specifically, the impact of the downturn in the economy on the arts – I sat down with my fearless leader, Illinois Arts Alliance Executive Director Ra Joy.

Before I begin my interview with Ra, I’d like to share my take on Illinois’ unique economic and political reality.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Raising Audiences: The New Imperative

Posted by Matt Lehrman On December - 2 - 2008

There’s a story of a farmer who wants to teach his horse to give up eating.  “Think of the money I’ll save,” he boasts to his neighbor.  And every day, the farmer teaches his horse a little more, by withholding a little more food.   A couple of weeks later, his neighbor sees the farmer walking to town.  “Where’s your horse?” he asks.  “Bad luck,” replies the farmer, “Just as soon as I taught that horse to eat nothing at all – he died!”

This isn’t a parable about your marketing budget.  Of course it’s been cut.  It SHOULD be cut.  I don’t know an arts organization that doesn’t need to exercise extreme budgetary prudence.

This is a question about your audience.  How well are you feeding your organization the new audiences it needs to survive? Read the rest of this entry »