What the Midterm Elections Mean for the Arts: Summary of 2014 Election

Posted by Nina Ozlu Tunceli On November - 6 - 2014
Nina Ozlu Tunceli

Nina Ozlu Tunceli

Narric Rome

Narric Rome

In this year’s midterm elections, Republicans took back the Senate, kept control of the House and won governorships in 31 states and counting. What does that mean for you and for us, as strong advocates of the arts and arts education? Here we break down the national, state, and local results – and their potential impact on the arts:

 

In Congress

The U.S. Senate will be Republican-led. This means all Senate committees will see new chairmen, and since those committees control and recommend federal spending, these new chairmen could have significant impact on federal arts funding. Read the rest of this entry »

My Turn: For a Humane Tax Reform

Posted by John R. Killacky On August - 21 - 2013
John R. Kilacky

John R. Killacky

Vermont, like many states, is considering comprehensive tax reform. Committees in the Vermont Senate and House developed proposals last legislative session and systemic changes seem high on the agenda for the 2014 session. Key components focus on increasing the portion of personal income that is taxed by capping deductions, including charitable contributions.

If passed, this revision to the tax code would negatively affect the work of nonprofit organizations statewide.

Vermont’s robust nonprofit sector comprises nearly 4,000 human, social service, educational, religious, and cultural organizations, ranking us No. 1 per capita in the nation. The Vermont Community Foundation reported in 2010 that these agencies generate $4.1 billion in annual revenue and represent 18.7 percent of our gross state product.

Nonprofits deliver critical services that government alone cannot provide: sheltering, caring for, and feeding those less fortunate; early childhood education; and cultural enrichment are just a few examples. Nonprofits include schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, community health clinics, workforce development centers, mentoring programs, homeless shelters, food banks, theaters, and galleries.

Some focus on specific populations: providing safe spaces for women, LGBT youth, refugees, the disabled, and migrant workers. They range from small, volunteer-run groups to huge universities. Although more than 80 percent of Vermont’s nonprofits operate with budgets of less than $250,000 each year.

By delivering mission-related programs, nonprofits improve lives and transform communities. Investing in early intervention is more cost-effective than dealing with societal dysfunction later in life. Food and shelter vs. homelessness, after-school tutoring vs. illiteracy, involved children vs. disengaged teens, job skills training vs. unemployment, community vs. isolation — consider the alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »

Congressional Appropriators Consider Cutting NEA in Half

Posted by Narric Rome On August - 1 - 2013
Full Cmte 4

Full Appropriations Committee Yesterday, July 31

In mid-July, the appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) met to approve a funding bill for fiscal year 2014, which begins on October 1st. Their bill calls for the NEA to receive a 49% cut totaling $71 million, which would bring the agency’s budget down to $75 million, a level not seen since 1974!

Yesterday, the full appropriations committee began their consideration of the bill, expected to take a few hours. However, they faced numerous amendments and rising tempers, and everyone has had an eye on adjourning for August – so they suspended the committee markup until September.

Before they stopped, they did consider an amendment offered by senior appropriator Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. David Price (D-NC) to fund the NEA (and the National Endowment for the Humanities) to the president’s request of $154 million. The amendment was defeated along a party-line vote of 19-27.

The 49% budget cut that remains in place is shocking, but not necessarily surprising. Leading up to the committee’s action, the House of Representatives approved a budget resolution which included the sequester cuts of about 5% to agency budgets, and an overall funding plan that reduced the entire bill by 19%. So, arts advocates and those who were closely watching from the environmental and natural resource communities were not surprised to see significant cuts proposed. However, a 49% reduction to an independent federal agency is misguided, counterproductive, and entirely disproportionate.

Final FY 2013
(includes 5% sequester cut)

FY 2014 President’s
Request

FY 2014 House Subcommittee
Proposal

National Endowment for the Arts

$138.4
million

$154.466 million

$75
million

National Endowment for the Humanities

$138.4
million

$154.466 million

$75
million

The arts community recognizes the challenges our elected leaders face in prioritizing federal resources. In fact, funding for the NEA has already been cut by more than $29 million over the past three years. These disproportionate cuts recall the dramatic decline of federal funding for the arts in the early 90s, from which the agency has still not recovered. Read the rest of this entry »

The Congressional Meat Grinder Cranks to Life

Posted by Narric Rome On June - 24 - 2013
Narric Rome

Narric Rome

Ever since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) authorization formally ended in 2007, Congress has been trying to reauthorize it, but with very little success. You remember NCLB? It passed Congress with whopping margins of 381-41 in the House and 87-10 in the Senate and President Bush signed it into law with big smiles from education champions like Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and House committee leaders John Boehner (R-OH) and George Miller (D-CA). That was then.

Since then, NCLB has been attacked each year by education advocates on all sides and the Obama Administration has gone so far as to grant waivers to 37 states allowing them to opt out of many of the law’s regulations, which will remain in place until the law is reauthorized. It’s been sad as education leaders, in and out of Congress, proclaim the “urgent” need to end the labeling of failing schools, to curb the “unintended consequences” that have been a fundamental problem with NCLB. Years have passed without even a floor vote on replacement legislation.

I’ve known Capitol Hill staff who were hired to work on the reauthorization (now referred to as the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)) who have given up waiting and moved to jobs off the Hill. Read the rest of this entry »

Candidates Weighing in on Arts Education

Posted by Doug Israel On June - 21 - 2013

Doug Israel

Doug Israel

After years of school budget cuts due to the economic downturn, and a decade of No Child Left Behind-inspired education policies, there is a movement afoot in districts across the country to reinvigorate the school day with a rich and engaging curriculum.

Parents, students, and educators have been beating the drum about the narrowed curriculum and are making the case to expand access to arts, music, foreign languages, science, and other core subjects that have been marginalized in schools in recent years. Now candidates to be mayor in the country’s largest school district are weighing in on what arts education would look like under their leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

Share Your Arts Education Story at Arts Advocacy Day

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 11 - 2013

Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC is less than a month away and with the recent sequester cuts and still-looming budget battle to come, it is vitally important that members of Congress hear how important the arts are to you and your community in person.

Even the staunchest supporters of a tight fiscal policy believe in the value of arts education. In this new video, Senior Director of Federal Affairs and Arts Education Narric Rome provides a quick snapshot of the importance of federal arts education advocacy:

Arts Advocacy Day will take place April 8—9 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park and the Cannon House Office Building on Capital Hill.

In addition, the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy will be an inspiring speech and performance by Grammy Award®-winning musician Yo-Yo Ma at The Kennedy Center at 6:30 p.m. on April 8. Tickets are included for Arts Advocacy Day participants and are still available to the public.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to add your voice to the chorus of those asking Congress to support the arts and arts education!

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 »

On behalf of Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund, I wish to congratulate President Barack Obama and all of the national, state, and local elected leaders across the country who won their elections last night.

White House

President Obama will now have the opportunity to fully realize his vision for the arts and culture as he originally laid out four years ago. By successfully securing healthcare for artists, economic recovery funds that saved artists’ jobs through the National Endowment for the Arts, and ongoing support for appropriations that fund federal cultural agencies, the president has taken many steps in supporting the nonprofit arts sector.

We hope to encourage President Obama and his administration over the course of the next four years to remain focused on maintaining arts education in every classroom; allocating a larger budget for the arts as an economic generator for American jobs, products, and communities; and protecting charitable giving incentives that are the lifeblood of the nonprofit arts sector.

We are proud that the nonprofit arts sector has already played an important role in our nation’s economic recovery by generating $135 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.1 million jobs, and returning $22 billion in tax revenue back to federal, state, and local coffers.

Congress

The make up of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, with a few races still to be called, is poised to remain relatively the same with modest gains by Democrats in both chambers. In the House of Representatives, we are happy to report that Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) won re-election in a hard-fought campaign made difficult by New York’s congressional redistricting plan. Also, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) will continue to chair the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, ensuring a friend of the arts remains at the head of that very important panel. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts Aren’t Red or Blue

Posted by Robert Lynch On November - 7 - 2012

Robert L. Lynch

Every four years America gets another chance to make its voice heard. And every four years the American arts community, in a way, gets a bit of a fiscal makeover.

How is that? Well, it has to do with how the nonprofit arts in America are funded and how policy affects those funding sources. And every four years, no matter who wins elections across our country, there are new policymakers in town.

Roughly 10 percent of the $61 billion aggregate budgets of the nonprofit arts in America comes from government—mostly local and then state government and finally federal sources. Yes, this is a tiny portion of the whole, and it is actually a lot smaller than many people, including many politicians, think. This 10 percent is indeed a small amount compared to the 30 percent the private sector—(mostly) individuals—chips in and the 60 percent that comes from earned and investment income.

But that 10 percent is critical in what is a very conservative funding model for arts in our country. I call this model conservative because a very modest government investment leverages more than 60 times as much private and earned revenue to create a whole industry and support millions of jobs. How?

A $146 million investment from the federal government directly leverages close to $5 billion more in local and state government investment, which in turn helps leverage another $50 billion to create the $61 billion nonprofit arts industry in America.

This model has helped grow an industry from a handful of organizations in 1965—when the federal cultural funding agencies like National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) came into being—to more than 110,000 arts businesses today. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art and Transportation Partnership Adds to St. Paul Culture

Posted by Tim Mikulski On August - 24 - 2012

Although federal transportation funding has recently moved away from including public art projects, there is still state and local funding available to help bring the arts to more people in your community via murals and roadside/town square-type public art work.

In this video from MinnPost.com, the presenter walks viewers through the city of St. Paul as murals are playing a large role in the installation of a new light rail system. Americans for the Arts member Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts, also appears to help explain the project:

Are there similar marriages between public art and transportation in your community?

Tell (or show us via web links) us about them in the comments below!

Gladstone Payton

Anxiety is already building on what promises to be a historic (for mostly all the wrong reasons) lame duck session of Congress after this year’s 2012 national elections in November. This session could possibly have a dramatic affect on the nonprofit arts sector.

Because all the seats in the U.S. House, and one-third of the Senate will be on the ballot November 6, there is very little motivation from either party to find a compromise in advance of election day. With control of the White House hanging in the balance, the political stability that follows an election appears to be the safest time for these issues of substance to be addressed, albeit in a very compressed timeframe.

What is the big deal?

It has many names: “Taxmageddon”; “Legislative Apocalypse” and others; you get the idea. The country is on schedule to see large tax cuts first put in place by President Bush, and then extended by President Obama, expire and huge cuts in government spending basically happen at the end of this year. This means that a tremendous shortfall for the national economy at large. Currently, the Congressional Budget Office estimates are that over $600 billion will be taken out of the still precarious economic recovery by the end of 2013.

How did we get here?

Last summer, President Obama agreed to House Republican demands to cut the burgeoning national deficit in order to increase the national debt limit ceiling to avoid default on our debt obligations. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) put into place a bipartisan “supercommittee.” Charged with finding how to cut $1.2 trillion promised in the BCA, they failed (miserably) to reach agreement which will trigger deep automatic cuts of 8.4 percent (sequestration) to most social and defense programs as agreed to in the BCA starting 2013.

Adding to the anxiety is the status of the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” and the payroll tax cut which are set to expire at the end of this year. By letting the tax cuts lapse, the marginal rates for just about every American are scheduled to increase and employees will see less in their paychecks. Combined with the previously mentioned spending cuts, you get a dramatic shortfall. This will spur a lot of talk about reforming the tax code and cutting additional spending, and it could affect the arts sector in a number of ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. Todd Platts testify at an Arts Advocacy Day hearing.

For 25 years of the Congressional Arts Caucus¹ 30-year history, arts advocates have convened for one day on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill to flood the halls of Congress to share their views regarding arts initiatives.

On this day, such active engagement by the arts community provides our representative government with a first-hand account of the state of the arts in our country. The opportunity to meet with our constituents and businesses with a personal connection to the arts helps to put a face (and a talent) to the idea of supporting the arts at a federal level.

Arts Advocacy Day (AAD) is a day to celebrate the vibrancy of the arts and the wide array of talents here in the United States of America. There is no better place to embrace the great diversity of our country’s artistic identity than in the nation’s capital.

For the thousands of you who have participated in AAD, chances are you have met with a congressional staffer or two (or 435). As the staff members that manage the Congressional Arts Caucus on behalf of its Co-Chairs, believe us when we say these meetings have a tremendous effect on gaining the attention of your Representatives and help to keep the arts community in the Members’ thoughts throughout the year.

Because of this, arts staffers are your greatest allies in making positive change for the arts with federal investments. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 Ways to Support Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On August - 26 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

This week I got an email from someone concerned about the budget cuts to arts education and inquiring about what they could do to help keep the arts in schools.

In the spirit of my colleague Randy Cohen’s popular post (Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts), I am presenting my own:

The Top 10 Ways to Support Arts Education

10. Volunteer your time, resources, skills: Many schools would appreciate your time as a chaperone, your skill as a teaching artist, or your donations of money, costumes, rehearsal space, etc.

9. Know the facts: Stay on top of current arts education research, trends, and news articles. Start with Reinvesting in Arts Education, which summarizes research on the topic. Use this data in your messaging when you speak to elected officials or school leaders.

8. Get involved politically: Tell your elected officials why arts education is important. Ask your members of Congress to keep the arts listed as a core subject during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 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.