CAA News Today

CAA cosponsored this year’s Humanities Advocacy Day (March 15-16, 2004), hosted by the National Humanities Alliance, and Arts Advocacy Day (March 29-31, 2004), hosted by Americans for the Arts; both took place in Washington, D.C. These two events brought together a broad cross-section of national cultural organizations, academics, and grassroots arts leaders to promote the arts, arts education, and the humanities to Congress by requesting increased support for federal cultural agencies.

CAA member Phoebe Farris of Purdue University joined CAA Executive Director Susan Ball for Humanities Advocacy Day. They visited the offices of key members of the Senate and the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which deals directly with funding for federal cultural agencies, in addition to meeting other legislators. Farris, Ball, and other humanities advocates from around the country called for Congress to support President George W. Bush’s budget request of $162 million for the NEH in fiscal year (FY) 2005. 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 recourses; and challenge grants to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities.

At Arts Advocacy Day, newly elected CAA President Ellen K. Levy joined CAA representatives Marta Teegen and Rebecca Cederholm on Capitol Hill to promote several important arts policy matters. They urged Congress to support a budget of $170 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in FY 2005, including President Bush’s request for $18 million to fund American Masterpieces, a major new initiative at the NEA that will combine arts presentations with education programming to provide Americans with access to their cultural and artistic legacy.

Levy and Cederholm visited the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Representative Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), and Representative Jerrold L. Nadler (D-NY), among several others, to urge them to continue supporting legislation that would allow artists to take a fair-market-value tax deduction for works of art donated to nonprofit institutions. Levy, Cederholm, and other arts advocates also called on Congress to require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adopt immediate reforms that would ensure timely processing of visa petitions related to nonprofit arts groups. Many nonprofit organizations confront untenable delays and uncertainties while getting approval of visa petitions for international guest artists and scholars.

Teegen visited members of the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2003. As reported in the May issue of CAA News, the Senate passed legislation that gives the president the authority to impose restrictions that prevent the import of cultural materials into the U.S. that have been illegally removed from Iraq since August 1990. The House has yet to vote on this important legislation, which is part of a larger, broadly supported tariff bill.