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Advocacy Days in Washington

posted by Christopher Howard — Jun 15, 2007

CAA once again cosponsored Arts Advocacy Day (March 12-13, 2007), hosted by Americans for the Arts, and Humanities Advocacy Day (March 27, 2007), hosted by the National Humanities Alliance. Both events were held in Washington, DC, 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.

Arts Advocacy Day
CAA representatives Michele Snyder (director of development, membership, and marketing) and Christine Sundt (former secretary of the Board of Directors) attended Arts Advocacy Day. Snyder visited the offices of Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Arcuri (D-NY), John Hall (D-NY), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Jim Walsh (R-NY).

Advocates focused on several important arts policy matters during these visits to Capitol Hill. They urged Congress to support a budget of $176 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year (FY) 2008, an increase over President George W. Bush’s current funding projection of $124.4 million. This increase would reinstate funding to 1992 levels and allow for greater service to arts organizations and artists who depend on NEA support. Additionally, this increase would provide for the creation, preservation, and presentation of the arts in the United States, through the NEA’s core programs: Access to Artistic Excellence; Challenge America: Reaching Every Community; Federal/State Partnerships; and Learning in the Arts.

In addition to increased funding for the NEA, advocates encouraged members of Congress to continue supporting arts education and to approve an increase of $8 million (for a total of $39.9 million) for Arts in Education programs in the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill. With increased funding, Arts in Education programs will sponsor newly emerging initiatives that improve arts learning. Advocates also urged the Congress to support the Artist-Museum Partnership Act (S 548), which will allow artists to take a fair-market-value tax deduction for donating their 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.

Humanities Advocacy Day
For Humanities Advocacy Day, an event that focuses on increased support for the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and for the humanities at large, CAA representative Alexis Light visited the offices of Senators Clinton and Schumer and Representatives Vito Fossella (R-NY), John Hall (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Thomas M. Reynolds (R-NY). Light joined other humanities advocates in urging Congress to support an NEH budget request of $177 million, an increase over President Bush’s current FY 2008 funding projection of $141.36 million. This increase would reinstate funding to 1994 levels and extend the reach and impact of the NEH’s core programs and special initiatives.

In addition to increased funding for the NEH, Light 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 Bush’s budget request for the third year in a row. The president’s request calls for zero funding both for grants and for staff to administer the NHPRC and its programs. Advocates asked lawmakers to support a minimum FY 2008 funding level of $12 million: $10 million for national grants and $2 million for essential staffing and 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. CAA will continue to work with the National Humanities Alliance, a nonpartisan advocacy group based in Washington, DC (of which CAA is a member), to address these issues.