posted by CAA — June 24, 2015
Americans for the Arts sent the following email on June 24, 2015.
Call On Your Member of Congress to Support the NEA!
This week, key decisions affecting arts funding are getting made.
Last night, the House Rules Committee met to set parameters for floor debate on legislation that funds the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and other cultural agencies, including the Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Congressional Arts Caucus co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) serves on that committee and spoke at length about arts funding, noting its impact on our economy, student achievement, and health. She made sure the committee knew that 4.7 million Americans work in the arts and that it makes up 4.3% of our U.S. GDP—more than $698 billion!
The House is scheduled to consider this legislation next on the House floor, beginning tomorrow. It’s been a while—the last time there were floor votes on this bill was back in 2011!
We urge every arts advocate to join Rep. Slaughter and help remind your member of Congress about the importance of the arts and arts funding as this key funding bill is debated.
Right now, the bill proposes sustained funding at $146 million. Last week in committee, efforts to increase funding by $2 million to the President’s request failed. Now on the floor, efforts to cut or even eliminate the agency are a possibility.
Arts advocates attending 2015 Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill this spring You know better than anyone the top 10 reasons to support the arts; make sure your representatives do, too. Take two minutes to urge your representative to support at least level funding for the NEA, and reject any effort to reduce it.
Thank you for your support of the arts! Help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member, play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today—it’s free and easy to join.
posted by CAA — June 23, 2015
Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, sent the following email on June 20, 2015.
Preparing for Possible Anti-NEH Amendments in the House
I am writing with an update on challenges NEH and NEA may face in the House in the coming week. As many of you know, the Interior appropriations bill has been scheduled to be considered on the floor of the House on Thursday. We are preparing for the possibility that an amendment cutting or eliminating funding for NEH and NEA may be introduced. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 5 pm, so we should know more after that.
In preparation. we are priming our members for a possible action alert and reaching out to specific organizations with ties to higher education institutions in strategically important Republican-held districts. We are asking them to be prepared to call on these institutions to reach out to the Members in support of NEH. I am attaching the list of 50 districts in case anyone has strong contacts to pursue if needed.
I know that many of you are already looped in through CAG and are already poised to act.
We’ll be in touch early in the week, and please let us know if you have any information.
Hopefully this will be much ado about nothing!
Hope you are all enjoying the weekend.
Najean Lee, director of government affairs and education advocacy for the League of American Orchestras, sent the following email on June 18, 2015.
Senate Approps Cmte approves FY16 Interior bill
Senate Approps debated the Interior bill for around 3 hours this morning and they’ve passed their funding bill which includes $146 million for NEA and NEH.
Udall proposed several amendments, the first of which included an increase for the cultural agencies’ budget to the President’s request, but the amendment was not adopted.
Hillary Bliss is CAA development and marketing manager.
Last week CAA sent two representatives to participate in the twenty-eighth annual Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Anna Cline, CAA development and marketing assistant, and I joined 550 grassroots advocates representing forty-eight states to lobby for strong public policies and increased funding for the arts. CAA also supported the event, which is organized by Americans for the Arts, as a national cosponsor.
Monday, March 23
Cline and I attended a full day of training that included legislative and political updates, in-depth briefings on our three primary “asks” (more on those later), and facts and figures to make a compelling case for the arts. We also heard an inspiring keynote address by Jane Chu, the recently appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). A role-play demonstration for congressional visits was incredibly helpful in illustrating how advocacy teams can manage the varying personalities and political agendas of senators, representatives, and their staffs to communicate clear messages and secure commitments of support in the form of caucus enrollment or letters addressing particular funding levels or policy positions. The most important takeaway was to strategically couple facts and figures—whether they be economic impact reports, matching-fund statistics, or art education’s effect on drop-out rates and SAT scores—with personal stories to create memorable and meaningful visits with legislators.
The three primary issues for Arts Advocacy Day were:
NEA Funding: We sought support for a $155 million budget for the NEA in the fiscal year 2016 Interior Appropriations bill. The broad reach and impact of the NEA can not be overstated: the agency awards approximately 2,300 grants per year to organizations in every US congressional district, reaches more than 38 million people through live art events, and helps to leverage roughly $600 million in matching funds from other state, local, and private sources. Closer to home, CAA has received support from the NEA every year since 2010 for ARTspace, a free and open component of the Annual Conference.
Arts in Education: We urged Congress to support $30 million for the Arts In Education (AIE) programs in the fiscal year 2016 Labor-Heath and Human Services-Education appropriations bill and retain it as a distinct grant competition for programs that strengthen the arts as a core academic subject of learning. Consolidation into an appropriations bill would risk compromising the program. We also sought support for retaining the arts in the definition of core academic subjects and for strengthening equitable access to the arts in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Tax Reform: Since many arts organizations operate as nonprofit entities, tax reform regarding charitable giving is a critical issue. We asked Congress to preserve incentives for donations by protecting full value tax deductions for all forms of charitable gifts; we also advised against the adoption of “caps” or “floors” for deductions. We also urged Congress to make the IRA charitable rollover permanent so that donors can achieve the greatest impact with their planned giving. We also asked representatives to support the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which would allow artists to take an income tax deduction for the fair market value of their work when they donate it to charitable collecting institutions.
There was no shortage of issues this year: advocates addressed arts in health, net neutrality, protection of wireless technology for the arts and media, and visa processes for foreign guest artists in short training sessions throughout the day. You can download American’s for the Arts’ 2015 Congressional Arts Handbook for facts and figures on all of these issues.
Closing the prelude to Arts Advocacy Day was the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, this year given by the television writer and producer Norman Lear at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. You can view Lear’s moving lecture, introduced by the hip-hop recording artist Common, on YouTube.
Tuesday, March 24
The packed Congressional Arts Kick-Off on Tuesday marked the official start of Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill and featured speakers such as Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), cochairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico received the Congressional Arts Leadership Award in recognition of his distinguished service on behalf of the arts.
Cline and I were on separate advocacy teams representing the New York City area that included undergraduate and graduate students and representatives from arts organizations such as Actors’ Equity Association, Fractured Atlas, POV, and others. We met with the offices of Representatives Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Grace Meng (NY-6), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Peter T. King (NY-2), Steve Israel (NY-3), Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-5), and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8). Overall the meetings went extremely well. Our groups were able to address the key public policy and funding issues mentioned above, as well as to communicate the work of CAA and its members.
In a visit with Nadler’s office, Cline thanked the congressman for his vigorous efforts to pass the American Royalties Too (ART) Act, which would ensure that visual artists are compensated when their original artwork is resold; she also offered CAA’s continued support for this legislation. Though a meeting was originally scheduled with a member of his staff, Rep. Israel met with my team to discuss the NEA budget. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations—and more specifically, the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which covers the NEA budget—Israel spoke about the budget process and stated that its current proposal includes $155 million for the NEA. Time will tell what the final approved NEA budget will be.
Visiting the congressional office buildings reinforces the fact that senators and representatives work for you. I noticed a marked difference in visits to representatives for whom we had a constituent on our team. Multiple staffers told us that they needed more vocal support for the arts to pass the legislation and public-funding increases we were requesting, so I encourage you to contact your legislators and express your support. Americans for the Arts has a useful site that includes not only information on issues and supporting materials like facts and figures, but also links to tools for finding and contacting your legislator.
The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC (photograph by Hillary Bliss)
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico accepting his Congressional Arts Leadership Award at the Congressional Arts Kick-Off event (photograph by Hillary Bliss)
My advocacy team after meeting with Representative Steve Israel. From left to right: Lawrence Lorchack, Actors’ Equity Association; Lynn Koos, New York University; Representative Steve Israel; Alison Ribellino, Towson University; Mary An, POV; and Linni Deihl, Andrew Anzel, and Haven G. Mitchell-Rose, New York University (photograph by Hillary Bliss)
Americans for the Arts sent the following email on March 24, 2015
Today is Arts Advocacy Day!
Today, Americans for the Arts and its affiliate the Arts Action Fund celebrate National Arts Advocacy Day, part of the National Arts Action Summit, with thousands of arts advocates across the country and hundreds of partnering state, local, and national arts and arts education organizations.
If you can’t join us in Washington, DC, today, then join us by letting your member of Congress know that you support the arts!
Today, more than 550 dedicated arts supporters from 48 states will come together in Washington, DC, for the 28th annual Arts Advocacy Day, the only national event that brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations.
- Participating in events are actor and Turnaround Artist Doc Shaw; actress, writer, dancer, and Americans for the Arts Artists Committee Member Victoria Rowell, American actress and playwright Holland Taylor, musicians Marc Roberge and Richard On from the American rock band O.A.R, and singer and performer Grace Weber
- Last night, multi–Grammy Award winning artist COMMON introduced the 28th Annual Americans for the Arts’ Nancy Hanks Lecturer on Arts and Public Policy and groundbreaking television producer, author, and social activist, Norman Lear, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
These hundreds of arts advocates represent a united effort to tell Capitol Hill how important the arts are to our communities, how much arts education means to our future, and how the arts improve our daily lives. With 87 national cosponsoring organizations, Arts Advocacy Day helps shape this united arts message to Congress.
Ways You Can Take Part
Ask your members of Congress to support the arts. Visit our E-Advocacy Center and you’ll be able to send a message in less than two minutes directly to your representative and senators telling them why the arts are important to you and your community. Take two minutes and send your message to Congress today!
Join the discussion on the Arts Advocacy Day Facebook page.
On Twitter? Tweet your proarts support, follow @Americans4Arts, and track all the action in Washington, DC, at #AAD15 and #ArtsVote!
Help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member, play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today—it’s free and easy to join.
Thank you for your support of the arts.
On Tuesday, February 24, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) held the seventh annual Museums Advocacy Day, in which representatives from all types of museums and arts organizations from across the country meet with congressional representatives to promote museums’ contributions to society and to discuss specific initiatives affecting their impact. This year, CAA sponsored a Museum Committee member to attend the event, so I was able to join fellow museum professionals in this important and surprisingly fun activity.
Monday, February 23, was dedicated to all-day training, which included presentations on the three main initiatives that we were to focus on during our discussions on Capitol Hill, as well as a panel Q&A with representatives from several federal funding agencies, including the usual “alphabet soup” of the NEA, NEH, IMLS, NSF, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs from the US State Department. The main takeaway from that discussion was to always contact these federal agencies when applying for a grant or program, as their staffs are there to help you through the process. Another activity was a fantastic presentation on the “Art of the Ask” by Dan Yaeger, executive director of the New England Museum Association. As a lobbying newbie, I attended a talk by Stephanie Vance (a.k.a. the Advocacy Guru) on the nuts and bolts of lobbying on the Hill. Helpful tips included:
- Be respectful to everyone you meet, even if it’s a twenty-one-year-old staff member and not your congressperson. These staff members truly affect how the representatives work and vote
- Prepare an elevator speech and connect it to the representative’s personal interests or platform
- If you have an appointment with a congressperson whose views you oppose personally, remember that when they meet with you, you are at the very least taking up their valuable time (an amusing and helpful tip!)
The afternoon consisted of reviewing the main issues that AAM was emphasizing this year:
- Supporting fully authorized funding of $38.6 million in fiscal year 2016 for the IMLS’s Office of Museum Services
- Opposing any proposals that would limit the scope or value of the tax deduction for charitable donations
- Supporting the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which would allow artists to claim a tax deduction of the fair market value of their work when donated to a charity
- Supporting partnerships between museums and schools
- Allowing museums be to eligible to compete for funding as part of a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act
AAM’s staff and presenters assured us that we need not be experts on these subjects but rather should use our congressional meetings to offer personal stories that demonstrate how museums are vital to the fabric of society and explain how the issues stated above will help museums continue this good work.
On Tuesday, we were fed a great breakfast, then all broke up to attend appointments that AAM set up for us across the Hill. I attended these meetings representing both CAA and my own institution in Virginia, so I met with Senator Tim Kaine (VA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Representative Louise Slaughter (NY), Representative Bobby Scott (VA), and Representative David Brat (VA).
I was with a group of about ten to fifteen fellow museum and arts folks for the first two appointments, and for the last three I was one of only two or three people. In addition to the issues mentioned above, I was able to talk about my museum, about university museums in general, and, of course, about CAA, including the recently issued fair-use guidelines. In general, the congressional staffers I met were gracious and knowledgeable—and I even got a photo op with a representative for my Facebook page. I was surprised and terribly grateful by how well AAM organized the event, how well they prepared us for the meetings, and how kind all the staff on the Hill were.
One of the things AAM pushed during training was that advocacy should continue beyond just that day, so I sent thank-you notes later that week. I’ve also been in touch with the two House Representative offices in Virginia to invite the congressmen and their staffs to visit our museums. Finally, my fellow advocates and I offered ourselves as resources on issues related to museums and the arts. All in all, Museums Advocacy Day was a fantastic experience to see and engage Congress in person, to meet colleagues with shared interests, and to spread the good word about museums and CAA.
The following email from Nina Ozlu Tunceli, executive director of Americans for the Arts, was sent on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
Arts Action Fund Breaking News 7-15-14
Once again, your advocacy voices made a difference. Last week, thousands of Arts Action Fund members sent letters to their Members of Congress in response to action taken by the House Subcommittee on the Interior. The Subcommittee had proposed an $8 million cut each from the FY 2015 budgets of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
We’re really pleased to report that when this bill came before the Full Appropriations Committee today, the Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) announced that he had made some “manager’s amendments” to the bill. He restored the cuts to the two federal cultural agencies and now the bill moves to the House floor with a $146 million recommendation for the NEA and NEH each.
posted by CAA — July 15, 2014
The following email from Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, was sent on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
Appropriations Committee Rescinds Proposed Cut to NEH
Dear Humanities Advocate,
Today, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that rescinds the proposed $8 million cut to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thanks to the many of you who responded to last week’s action alert, the amendment passed with substantial bipartisan support.
This is a very important step in preserving NEH’s capacity. In the coming weeks, we may need to call on you to contact your elected officials again as this funding bill proceeds through Congress and faces additional challenges.
Thanks in advance for your continued support!
The following email from Nina Ozlu Tunceli, executive director of Americans for the Arts, was sent on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
Arts Action Fund Breaking News 7-9-14
Today, U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the new House Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, set the initial funding levels for the nation’s cultural agencies’ budgets for FY 2015. The chairman was able to assign small increases to the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art, but also made some cuts to each of the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities, as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
We now look to the Senate to restore these proposed cuts and hopefully provide an increase to each of these federal cultural agencies. We’ve already prepared an easy-to-customize, pre-written letter for you to e-mail to your two Senators and House Representative. Please take two minutes to help us get the word out.
With your help, I am optimistic that we will be able to secure higher funding levels in the Senate, which coincidentally is voting to confirm new National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bo Adams today.
posted by CAA — July 09, 2014
The following email from Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, was sent on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.
Act Now! Proposed Cuts Would Bring NEH’s Funding to Its Lowest Level since 1972
Dear Humanities Advocate,
This morning, the House subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities proposed to fund NEH at its lowest level since 1972. If enacted, this $8 million cut would bring NEH’s funding level to just $138 million for 2015.
It is time to stop the steady erosion of NEH’s capacity!
The subcommittee will be voting on the proposed cuts tomorrrow, so it is essential that you act now. Please contact your Member of Congress and urge them to oppose the proposed cut to the NEH.
Click here to send our message to your Representative today. They are waiting to hear from you.
Thanks for your help!