College Art Association

CAA News Today

Legislative Update

posted by November 16, 2006

In contrast to the House version of the Interior Appropriations bill, in which the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities received an increase of $5 million each, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved level funding for both endowments. The Senate did include an increase for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education program and for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The House version, on the other hand, followed President George W. Bush’s request for severe cuts to CPB and for zeroing out Arts in Education. Historically the Senate has reversed the president’s recommendation. The full Senate has yet to vote on the bill and, at press time, it seems unlikely it will pass a separate Interior Appropriations bill. Congress is slated to recess through the November elections, which leaves little time for it to complete unfinished legislation, including the Interior Appropriations bills that fund all federal programs. Congress will most likely put off appropriations legislation and pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running at the previous fiscal year’s funding levels through November, when it returns for a lame-duck session to finish the appropriations process. Regardless of whether most spending bills are acted on separately or grouped into a large omnibus package, House and Senate Appropriations Committees need to begin conferencing on fiscal year 2007 spending before the end of the calendar year. Meaningful work on the Interior bill is not expected until after the November election.

In other legislative news, the Senate passed the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which contains a series of provisions designed to stimulate charitable giving and eliminate perceived abuses of charity laws by donors and nonprofit organizations. President Bush signed the measure into law in August. The legislation provides a provision including appraisal reform, increased penalties and fines for excess benefit transactions, and a change to the tax treatment of fractional gifts that greatly restricts donors’ abilities to stretch out gifts of art over several years, which is important for gifts of major artworks. The provision is expected to have a negative effect on museums’ ability to acquire art from private donors. The museum community is working to make recommendations to Congress to eliminate or change the fractional-gift provision as lawmakers consider introducing a bill to revise the measure. Among the charitable incentives included in the legislation is one that would allow donors age 70½ or older to make tax-free distributions of up to $100,000 directly to charitable organizations from either traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) or a Roth IRA. As enacted, the law is effective only for two years. The legislation does not include the long-sought “artist deduction” that would allow artists to claim a fair-market-value tax deduction when they donate their own works to collecting or educational institutions; nor does it include a charitable-giving provision allowing people who do not itemize deductions on their returns to write off a portion of their charitable donations, something the nonprofit community has repeatedly asked for.

RAND Study on State Arts Agencies

posted by November 16, 2006

A new RAND report, entitled “The Arts and State Governments: At Arm’s Length or Arm in Arm?”, recommends that state arts agencies seeking increased state government support for the arts should strengthen their relationships with elected officials and raise their organizations’ profile with the public. State arts agencies are government organizations created in the US in the 1960s and after; they support the arts through grants to artists and nonprofit arts organizations.

The report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, suggests that strategies that reach out to the public and to government officials can be effective in positioning the arts higher on the list of government priorities. It also shows that state arts agencies have contributed to a nationwide flourishing of professional artists and art organizations and have helped local communities gain control over most public arts funding decisions.

“The Arts and State Governments” can be ordered from RAND’s Distribution Services at 877-584-8642; order@rand.org

NEH Digital Humanities Initiative

posted by November 16, 2006

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced a new Digital Humanities Initiative that will support projects that use digital technology to transform scholarly research. The NEH is especially interested in projects that use digital technologies and methods to enhance public understanding of a specific topic or issue; study the impact of digital technology on the humanities; and digitize important materials and make them more accessible to the public.

Museums for America Grants

posted by November 16, 2006

In July, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced Museums for America grant recipients for 2006. A total of 177 museums will share almost $17 million in federal funding, which much be matched by another $30 million. Museums for America grants help museums to support lifelong learning, sustain cultural heritage, and serve as centers for community engagement. For the complete list of recipients, go to www.imls.gov/news/2006/071806_list.shtm.

Cultural Preservation Grants

posted by November 16, 2006

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, funded through the US State Department, has announced its 2006 awards. The awards covers eighty-seven projects from around the world, including the restoration of two mosques in Tanzania and the conservation of some two thousand items of ancient jewelry reflecting the history of Kyrgyzstan. Congress established the Ambassador’s Fund in 2001, directing the State Department to set aside $1 million to assist countries in preserving their cultural heritage. The program’s funding level has increased each year and is now at $3 million. Since its inception, the program has awarded 379 preservation grants in 108 countries.

New Charity Awards $50,000 Artists’ Grants

posted by November 16, 2006

A new charity, United States Artists, has announced a plan to provide support to US artists. Fifty artists working in a wide variety of disciplines and at various career stages will receive $50,000 each, no strings attached. The first recipients will be announced December 4.

RAND Study on State Arts Agencies

posted by November 01, 2006

A new RAND report, entitled “The Arts and State Governments: At Arm’s Length or Arm in Arm?”, recommends that state arts agencies seeking increased state government support for the arts should strengthen their relationships with elected officials and raise their organizations’ profile with the public. State arts agencies are government organizations created in the US in the 1960s and after; they support the arts through grants to artists and nonprofit arts organizations.

The report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, suggests that strategies that reach out to the public and to government officials can be effective in positioning the arts higher on the list of government priorities. It also shows that state arts agencies have contributed to a nationwide flourishing of professional artists and art organizations and have helped local communities gain control over most public arts funding decisions.

“The Arts and State Governments” can be ordered from RAND’s Distribution Services at 877-584-8642; order@rand.org; www.rand.org.