College Art Association

CAA News Today

CAA co-sponsored Arts Advocacy Day (March 14-15, 2005), hosted by Americans for the Arts, and Humanities Advocacy Day (April 6-7, 2005), hosted by the National Humanities Alliance. Both events were held in Washington, D.C., and brought together a broad cross-section of national cultural organizations, academics, and grassroots arts leaders to promote the arts, arts education, and humanities to Congress through increased support for the federal cultural agencies.

At Arts Advocacy Day, CAA President Ellen K. Levy joined CAA staff representatives Rebecca Cederholm and Alexis Light to focus on several important arts policy matters during visits to Capitol Hill. They urged Congress to support a budget of $170 million for the National Endow-ment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year (FY) 2006, which is an increase of $49 million over President George W. Bush’s request for level funding. An increase would support the creation, preservation, and presentation of the arts in the United States, including Challenge America, a program that uses the arts to enhance America’s communities through grants for arts education, youth-at-risk programs, cultural preservation, and community arts partnerships, as well as to improve access to the arts for all Americans. An increase would also support the president’s request to continue funding for American Masterpieces, an initiative that combines arts presentations with educational programming to provide Americans with access to their cultural and artistic legacy.

Levy, Cederholm, and Light visited the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Representative Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), and Representative Jerrold L. Nadler (D-NY), among others, on Arts Advocacy Day to urge them to continue supporting legislation that would allow artists to take a fair-market-value tax deduction for artists who donate works of art to nonprofit organizations. At present, collectors who give art to museums and cultural institutions are able to claim the full market value of the work, whereas artists can only deduct the cost of the materials used. Together with other arts advocates from across the country, Levy, Cederholm, and Light also called on Congress to require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adopt immediate reforms that will ensure timely processing of visa petitions related to nonprofit arts groups. Many nonprofit organizations confront untenable delays and uncertainties while gaining approval of visa requests for international guest artists and scholars.

CAA representatives Cederholm and Light joined CAA Executive Director Susan Ball for Humanities Advocacy Day, an event that focuses on increased support for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Ball visited the offices of key members of both the Senate and House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which deal directly with funding for the federal cultural agencies, as well as members of the Congressional Humanities Caucus. Cederholm and Light visited the offices of Representative Jos’ Serrano (D-NY), Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY), among others. (Because CAA’s address is in New York, the organizers asked us to visit our state’s representatives.) Ball, Cederholm, and Light joined other humanities advocates in urging Congress to support President Bush’s budget request of $153.1 million for the NEH in FY 2006. This funding will support, among other things, the We the People initiative to enhance understanding of American history and culture; education programs to strengthen teaching and learning in schools, colleges, and universities; preservation and access grants to save unique historical, cultural, and intellectual resources; and challenge grants to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities.

In addition to increased funding for the NEH, CAA representatives encouraged members of Congress to support other humanities-related legislation in the coming year. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration, was targeted by President Bush’s FY 2006 budget request for zero funding both for grants and for staff to administer the NHPRC and its programs. Arts advocates asked lawmakers to support a minimum FY 2006 funding level of $10 million: $8 million for grants and $2 million for staffing and other program administration-related costs. Without grant funds, the publishing of papers and other historical materials from America’s founding era to the present will be severely curtailed or terminated, the network of state archives will collapse, and research and development in the field of preserving electronic records will end.

Advocacy alerts related to various arts and humanities issues are regularly posted to CAA’s website; for further information, see www.collegeart.org/advocacy. To locate and contact your senator or representative to let him or her know how you feel about these and other arts-related issues, please see the link to Capwiz.

The National Humanities Alliance board of directors has named Jessica Jones Irons its new executive director. She succeeds John Hammer, who retired in December 2004 after seventeen years in the position.

The National Humanities Alliance, a coalition of more than eighty nonprofit organizations including CAA, monitors and takes action on a variety of legislative, regulatory, and judicial issues, including federal funding, copyright and intellectual property, freedom of expression, and access to government information. For more details, visit www.nhalliance.org.

Senate Cultural Caucus Formed

posted by July 16, 2005

Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) have come together to serve as co-chairs of a new bipartisan Senate caucus. In the letter announcing its formation, the Senate Cultural Caucus seeks �to bring focus to the arts and humanities and the positive impact they have on our daily lives.� The caucus, which will likely serve as a strong base of support for pro-arts legislation in the Senate, will highlight the work of the three primary federal cultural agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The caucus chairs aim to recruit at least forty more senators by the end of the year. If the total reaches fifty-one, the caucus would create a powerful bipartisan bloc for promoting arts legislation. The House of Representatives created the Congressional Humanities Caucus in early 2005, as well as the Arts Caucus in 1997, which currently has more than 180 members.

Contact your senators and urge them to join the Cultural Caucus today!