From left: Fireworks; Jenny Holzer, For the Guggenheim, light projection (2008); Leo Villareal, Flag, LED lights (2008)
NYFA’s Arts Advocacy section regularly provides up-to-date listings of select arts advocacy issues at the local, state, and federal levels. These listings are for current legislation efforts, which if approved will have a direct impact on artists and arts workers across the country.
Save Federal Support for Arts Education
Last month, the House Education & Workforce Committee, a standing committee of the House of Representatives, approved legislation that would terminate all federal support directed to arts education, and cut 42 other federal education programs. The full House of Representatives may vote on the bill, HR 1891, prior to their August Congressional Recess. Contact your House Representative now using this customizable e-alert and urge him or her to reject this bill. Arts education has been shown to improve schools, teaching, and student success in school, work, and life. The Arts in Education program of the U.S. Department of Education provides critical federal leadership in supporting a well-rounded curriculum throughout our nation’s public schools. Make sure your House Representative knows that you oppose the narrowing of our students’ education that this bill seeks.
Protect the Charitable Income Tax Deduction
Over the next several weeks, six members of Congress—a bipartisan group designated by Congressional leaders and led by Vice President Biden—will negotiate a final version of President Obama’s legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction. The proposal includes a plan to cap charitable and other deductions for households with incomes over $250,000 per year. It is imperative that members of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector urge their representatives to protect the charitable deduction. Arts organizations, which rely heavily on wealthy donors, could be hit the hardest by the proposed change. Unlike other tax incentives for personal expenditures, the charitable deduction encourages taxpayers to behave in ways for which they receive no personal material benefit, namely, to give back to their communities. Limiting the deduction would not make the tax code more equitable; rather, it would further deprive those who could not otherwise afford the services that nonprofit organizations provide. Click here to learn more about the issue and how to take action.
Action Needed: Cuts and Termination for Federal Arts Education and NEA
On the heels of the new 26% cut to the NEA’s budget, its largest cut in 16 years, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have just passed a stop-gap funding measure for FY 2011 that would terminate the $40 million Arts in Education program. Congress is working to finalize the next phase of funding legislation within these next two weeks. Contact your members of Congress now via The Arts Action Fund’s customizable E-Advocacy Center and let them know that the arts and arts education funding are priorities for you and that these cuts are unacceptable and ought to be restored.
Vote to Increase the NEA Budget
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funds dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary, museums, music, musical theater, opera, presenting, theater, and visual arts. In addition to direct grants, the NEA provides important leadership that advances the arts sector through national initiatives, research, and publications. In July, the House set the initial funding level for the fiscal year of 2011 budget for the NEA at $170 million, which is a $2.5 million increase from the 2010 level, and a significant improvement to the $6.4 million cut proposed by the Obama administration in February. This budget will be finalized by Congress later this year. Contact your legislators and ask that they support the $2.5 million funding increase for the NEA.
No Child Left Behind
With the pending reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Bill (last authorized in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act) comes the opportunity for music and arts education to be redefined as “core” academic subjects. This redefinition would provide new and numerous opportunities for public school students across the country to explore and enjoy music, theater, dance, and visual art. Congress is expected to address this bill in early 2011. Americans for the Arts provides a template letter, customized according to zip code, here.
Support the Artist Deduction Bill
Under current legislation, artists who donate their work to nonprofit organizations may only claim a tax deduction for the cost of materials used. This stands in stark contrast to the rights afforded collectors such as museums, libraries, and schools, who may take a tax deduction for the fair-market value of the work. Under HR. 1126, the House Artist Deduction Bill, and S. 405, the Senate Artist Deduction Bill, artists would be enabled to take a fair-market value deduction for works given to and retained by nonprofit organizations. Click here to send either an original or pre-formulated letter to your state Senators and Representatives, urging them to co-sponsor the Artist Deduction Bill.
Justice for Jazz Artists
In 2007, Associated Musicians of Greater New York (Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians) helped to convince New York State to eliminate the sales tax on admission to jazz clubs. State legislators expected that the tax relief money would be used by Local 802 and New York jazz clubs to the benefit of performing jazz musicians. Now Local 802 is petitioning New York’s jazz clubs–including Birdland, The Blue Note, Iridium, Jazz Standard, (le) poisson rouge, Smoke, Sweet Rhythm, and The Village Vanguard–to work alongside the union to put the tax relief money toward the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund on behalf of performing jazz musicians. To sign a petition urging New York jazz clubs to contribute to the pension fund, click here.