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TCG is a founding member of the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA), the premiere advocate for America's professional nonprofit arts organizations, artists, and their publics before the US Congress and key policy makers. Example Action Alerts are listed below in reverse chronological order. Sign up today!
February, 2016: Visa Policy Alert: ARTS Act Reintroduced in the Senate!
On Monday, February 8, the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act was reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The bill (S. 2510) would improve opportunities for international cultural activity by ensuring that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) processes artist visas within a reasonable timeframe. Many U.S. nonprofit performing arts organizations partner with guest artists from abroad for performances and educational projects. Petitioners often navigate lengthy processing times, inconsistent interpretation of requirements, and unwarranted requests for further evidence when seeking O and P visas to bring those artists to the United States. The ARTS Act would make the visa process more reliable and affordable. It would require that a petition filed on or behalf of a U.S. nonprofit arts organization be processed within 14 days or be treated as a Premium Processing case, free of charge. The ARTS Act has a strong history of bipartisan support. It was most recently included as a provision in the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate in June, 2013. Your voice was vital then, and we need you to speak up for the arts again and ask your Senators to co-sponsor this bill!
ACTION: Write your Senators and take action on the ARTS Act!
December, 2015: Weigh In On the IRS’ New Gift Substantiation Proposal
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is proposing new regulations that would establish a voluntary process for nonprofits to substantiate gifts of $250 or more from individual donors. Under this new process, nonprofits could file a voluntary alternative information return that would require collecting donors’ Social Security numbers (SSN) or taxpayer identification numbers (TIN) to substantiate gifts. This form would have to be filed in addition to the organization’s 990 and sent to the donor by February 28 of each year for donations received in the previous tax year. Currently, the IRS requires nonprofits to substantiate gifts of $250 or more by providing donors with written documentation, typically an acknowledgement letter stating the amount of the gift or value of any non-cash item that is donated. Many arts organizations already have a sufficient practice in place to send donors acknowledgement letters for contributions and feel that this additional proposed process–though voluntary–would be unnecessary and cause additional administrative burdens.
ACTION: Submit your comments to the IRS about how this proposal would affect your organization.
November, 2015: Ask Congress to #Act4Good!
The IRA Charitable Rollover expired at the end of 2014 and has been unavailable this year to donors as an option to support the nonprofits serving their communities. There has been support for this provision in Congress this year: in February, the House passed the “America Gives More Act” to permanently reinstate a set of charitable giving incentives that included the IRA Rollover. The Senate Finance Committee passed a similar bill in July. With only six weeks left until the New Year, we need Congress to #Act4Good and reinstate and make permanent this important tax provision!
ACTION: Write your lawmakers and urge them to support the IRA Charitable Rollover!
November, 2015: Action Alert: FY16 Appropriations!
Congress recently passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through December 11 at FY15 levels. Appropriators are now working on an omnibus spending bill for FY16. This spending bill will govern how the federal budget is distributed to various agencies and government programs. It’s important that legislators hear from the performing arts community!
ACTION: Write your lawmakers and urge them to protect and advance the National Endowment for the Arts, Cultural Exchanges, and Arts Education.
7/21/15: Tell Your Senator to Extend the IRA Charitable Rollover (Targeted to Senate Committee)
Your Senator, who sits on the Senate Committee on Finance, will be considering a bill tomorrow that would extend the IRA Charitable Rollover along with other expired tax provisions. The IRA rollover expired on December 31, 2014, and nonprofit advocates across the country have been asking the Senate to reinstate and make this permanent. The Senate bill that will be marked up tomorrow would reinstate these provisions for two years, retroactively from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. Nonprofit performing arts organizations are able to serve their communities with educational programming, partnerships, and high quality arts experiences with support from IRA Charitable Rollover donations. The longer Congress waits to take action, the fewer resources will be available to support community needs.
ACTION: Please take action and contact your Senator on the Finance Committee today! Send a letter to your Senator about the Rollover and include a personalized message about the importance of this support for your organization's work.
7/2/15: House & Senate Debate Education Policy Next Week!
Next week is a big week for arts education on Capitol Hill! Both the full House and full Senate will debate their own versions of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA is the federal education law that funds primary and secondary education and aims to provide all students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education. It was last reauthorized in 2002 as "No Child Left Behind." Next Tuesday, July 7, the Senate will debate its ESEA legislation, the "Every Child Achieves Act" (S. 1177), and will consider amendments to the bill. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are offering an amendment encouraging states to measure and report on indicators of student access to critical educational resources. Core academic subjects are one of these indicators, and this includes the arts. This type of transparency from states is key to ensuring that all students have equal access to high quality arts education. As early as next Wednesday, July 8, the House will debate its ESEA legislation, the "Student Success Act" (H.R. 5), and will consider amendments to the bill. In ESEA reauthorization, PAA is advocating for:
- retaining the definition of "core academic subjects" which includes the arts,
- retaining the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs,
- retaining the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education, and
- requiring states to be transparent and report annually on student access to arts education.
ACTION: Join the effort and write to your lawmakers! Encourage them to support arts education in their versions of ESEA. PAA has drafted letters that you can send to both the House and Senate. Take action before next Tuesday, July 7!
6/30/15: NEA Appropriations Resume Next Week! (Targeted to House)
Next week, the House of Representatives will resume debate of the FY16 Interior Appropriations Bill which contains $146 million for the NEA's budget. The last time the Interior bill was debated on the House floor was 2011; your Representative voted against an amendment to decrease NEA funding. As a member of the majority party, your Representative's vote was particularly important in 2011 and is needed again should any harmful amendments be introduced against the NEA. Please contact your Representative and ask for that same support next week!
ACTION: Representatives are back in their districts for the July 4th recess. If you get a chance to meet with your legislator, thank him/her for supporting the NEA in the past and ask him/her to preserve NEA funding in FY16. You can also click here to send a letter to your Representative. Include a personal message and share the NEA-supported work your organization is doing in your community.
6/24/15: House to Debate Interior Bill Including the NEA Budget!
Tomorrow, the full House of Representatives will consider the FY16 Interior spending bill which includes funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Both the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee approved $146 million for the NEA. When the Interior bill goes to the House floor, there may be hostile amendments introduced to decrease NEA funding. Members will debate the bill tomorrow, and any amendments that are introduced will be voted on after the July 4th recess. The FY16 appropriations cycle stands out from previous years because neither the Interior Subcommittee or full Appropriations Committee recommended a cut to the NEA. Also, this is the first time since 2011 that the House is following regular order and considering this appropriations bill. This normal procedure allows lawmakers to debate and vote on the bill and is an important opportunity for you to speak up and advocate for the arts.
ACTION: Your participation is essential to warding off threats to funding. Contact your Representatives today and urge them to oppose any efforts to decrease NEA funding. Tell them about the importance of the NEA for encouraging public knowledge, education, understanding, and appreciation for the arts in America.
6/23/15: Outage at State Department Delays Visas
On June 19, the State Department reported a technical issue with the part of its visa processing system that performs security checks and identity verification. While this system is down, U.S. Consulates around the world are not able to issue visas. The State Department reports that it is working on a variety of solutions to this problem. However, it does not yet have an estimated date for resolution and does not expect a solution before next week. Once the system is back up, though, priority will be given to issuing visas for medical emergencies and humanitarian cases.
ACTION: Those affected by this situation are advised to monitor the U.S. Consulate and U.S. State Department websites daily. The State Department has created a FAQs page that also includes frequent status updates. You can also visit Artists from Abroad for more information.
6/11/15: Senate Interior Appropriators to Consider FY16 Bill (Targeted to Senate Committee)
Your Senator is debating the NEA budget next week! We're contacting you because your Senator serves on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Next Tuesday, June 16th at 2:30pm, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will debate its FY16 appropriations bill which recommends the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Take Action with PAA and ask the Senate to increase appropriations to $155 million. The federal government is still operating under sequestration which placed a cap on federal spending for 10 years. Currently, the NEA is funded at $146 million and just recently on June 10, Interior appropriators in the House recommended the same amount for the agency. This amount is the same that the NEA has received for the past four years and is also $2 million less than the President's recommendation of $148 million.
ACTION: It's important that your Senator hear from you before next Tuesday! Click this link and write a letter asking your Senator to support $155 million for the NEA in FY16. In the space provided, please include a personal message about the value of the NEA in supporting the performing arts in your community.
6/10/15: House Interior Appropriators to Consider FY16 Bill (Targeted to House Committee)
Last Call to Tell House Appropriators to Support the NEA! The FY16 appropriations process for the National Endowment for the Arts starts today! This morning at 10:15am, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider the FY16 Interior Appropriations bill which contains funding for the NEA. Today's activity is critical to the appropriations process as the subcommittee will set a dollar amount for the agency which begins the discussion of its budget for the next fiscal year. Currently, the NEA is funded at $146 million-the same amount it's received for the past four years-and the President requested a $2 million increase for the NEA in FY16. Join PAA and arts advocates in asking Congress to increase appropriations to $155 million. Last year, Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42) maintained level funding for the Agency, demonstrating his support for the arts in a difficult economic climate. The federal government is still operating under sequestration, which requires reductions in federal spending each year and limits Congress' ability to fund increases for agencies.
ACTION: We're contacting you because your Representative serves on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. It's important that your representative hear from you this morning! Click this link to send a letter to your legislator asking him or her to support $155M for the NEA in FY16. A space is provided for you to include a personal message about the value of the NEA in supporting the performing arts in your community.
6/9/15: NEA Appropriations Start Tomorrow! (Targeted to House Committee)
Tell House Appropriators to Support the NEA! The FY16 appropriations process for the National Endowment for the Arts starts tomorrow! The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NEA's budget, begins consideration of the FY16 Interior Appropriations bill on Wednesday, June 10 at 10:15am. Tomorrow's activity is critical to the appropriations process as the subcommittee will set a dollar amount for the agency which begins the discussion of its budget for the next fiscal year. Currently, the NEA is funded at $146 million-the same amount it's received for the past four years-and the President requested a $2 million increase for the NEA in FY16. Join PAA and arts advocates in asking Congress to increase appropriations to $155 million. Last year, Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42) maintained level funding for the Agency, demonstrating his support for the arts in a difficult economic climate. The federal government is still operating under sequestration, which requires reductions in federal spending each year and limits Congress' ability to fund increases for agencies.
ACTION: We're contacting you because your Representative serves on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. It's important that your representative hear from you today! Click the link below to send a letter to your legislator asking him or her to support $155M for the NEA in FY16. A space is provided for you to include a personal message about the value of the NEA in supporting the performing arts in your community
5/14/15: Protect Wireless Technology for the Performing Arts
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may soon rule on several proceedings that will impact the use of wireless microphones. The FCC is proposing that entities using fewer than 50 microphones would not be able to register in a geo-location database which provides interference protection. This will affect many performing arts organizations, venues, and productions. The FCC is also considering a longer-term home for wireless microphones in a different area of the broadcast spectrum. Moving within the spectrum would mean arts organizations would have to purchase expensive new equipment. Many already did this in 2010--spending $25K-$100K--when the FCC mandated wireless microphones vacate the 700 MHz band of the broadcast spectrum. Nonprofit performing arts organizations, commercial theaters, schools, and performers have all relied on wireless microphone technology which operates within the radio frequencies between broadcast channels of the television band. These frequencies are called “white space.” Wireless backstage communications systems also operate in white space and are integral to stagehands and technical crew. Interference to backstage communications could compromise the safety of performers, technicians and audiences.
ACTION: Ask your Representative to protect wireless technology used in the performing arts! Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), co-chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus, are circulating a sign-on letter in the House of Representatives urging the FCC to protect wireless microphones. The letter will be sent to the FCC later this month. Ask your Representative to sign on to this letter by close of business on Thursday, May 21.
4/13/15: Senate HELP Committee to Discuss ESEA this Week (Targeted to Senate Committee)
This is an important week for arts education in the Senate! The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee will consider a new bipartisan draft bill to re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. Entitled the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, the draft bill would update ESEA, and the arts community wants the arts to be included and ensured a place in every child’s education. Your senator serves on the HELP committee and needs to hear from you this week as the committee discusses numerous amendments being introduced to the bill. Urge your senator to protect arts education in ESEA. In January, we alerted you about the chance to weigh in on an early draft of this bill authored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Many of you responded and spoke up on four key points:
- Retaining the definition of "core academic subjects" which includes the arts.
- Restoring the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs which include the arts.
- Restoring the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education which supports grants for educator professional development in the arts and model arts education programs.
- Requiring states to give an annual report on student access to arts education.
The new draft being considered this week does retain the definition of core academic subjects including the arts! This is a win for the arts: this designation makes arts education programs eligible for federal funding such as Title I. The bill does not, though, include direct support for afterschool or summertime learning programs or the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education.
ACTION: Click this link to contact your senator THIS WEEK and tell him or her to support the arts in ESEA. Speak up and share your story of the importance of arts education!
3/23/15: Participate in Arts Advocacy Day
Tomorrow, March 24, 2015, is Arts Advocacy Day 2015! Arts advocates from around the country will visit lawmakers on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to support federal policies impacting the arts. Your voice is important in this process and you can participate from home! Contact your members of Congress and urge them to:
- Support the National Endowment for the Arts
- Support Arts Education at the U.S. Department of Education
- Protect Performing Arts Wireless Technology
- Support International Cultural Exchange
- Support Charitable Giving Incentives
- Improve the Artist Visa Process
The Performing Arts Alliance is a national co-sponsor of Arts Advocacy Day, and we proudly join other arts advocates carrying the message to support the arts to their Representatives and their Senators.
ACTION: Take Action! Every member of Congress in every state should hear from performing arts advocates in their communities. Help make this a national day of arts activism by contacting your members of Congress.
2/26/15: Speak up for Arts Ed in the House of Representatives!
Tomorrow, February 27, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. Last month, PAA alerted you to weigh in on draft ESEA legislation in the Senate, and many of you voiced your support for arts education in that bill. It’s now time to speak up for arts education in the House. The House majority’s proposal recommends broad changes to the federal leadership role in education reform. House Democrats are likely to offer alternative proposals for consideration, and the votes on each measure are expected to fall along party lines. You know how important the arts are in providing a complete education for every American student. Share these key messages about arts education with your Representative:
- Currently, federal law defines the arts as a “core academic subject.” Any future versions of ESEA should retain this definition; it makes arts education eligible for critical federal resources that address inequalities and strengthen education.
- It’s critical that state-level data about student access to arts education be collected and publicly reported. Knowing how much or how little arts education is being offered in our schools helps ensure all students have equitable access to it. Federal law should require this transparency.
- Arts education must be supported in ESEA provisions for early childhood education, afterschool and out-of-school learning, teaching effectiveness, school turnaround efforts, charter schools, and student assessment.
- The U.S. Department of Education should continue to administer the Arts in Education competitive grant program which advances educator professional development in the arts and model arts education programs.
ACTION: Take action by tomorrow and tell your Representative about the importance of arts education!
Permanent the IRA Charitable Rollover
This week the U.S. House of Representatives will consider making permanent a package of charitable giving incentives that includes the IRA Charitable Rollover. After expiring at the end of 2013, the IRA Rollover was reinstated by Congress and the White House in the final weeks of 2014. However, as of January 1, 2015, it has expired again. This cycle of expiration and renewal creates uncertainty for organizations that cultivate planned gifts to support their arts organizations. Before the vote, tell your Representative how important the IRA Charitable Rollover is to supporting your arts organization’s work.
ACTION: Please write a letter to your Representative about the importance of making the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent.
1/29/15: Protect Arts Education
Earlier this month, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a discussion draft of the "Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015." This Act would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which governs our nation's public education system. Several provisions in this law would threaten arts education, both during school time and after school. Through public comment, this is the first opportunity to deliver four key messages, in unison with the broader arts and arts education community:
- The arts are currently listed as a core academic subject in federal law. Any rewrite of ESEA must retain the arts in the definition of "core academic subjects," enabling access to federal resources that address inequalities and strengthen education.
- Federal law should require transparency in how much or how little arts education is being offered to our nation's students. Collecting and publicly reporting the status and condition of arts education and other core academic subjects on an annual basis at the state level is critical to ensuring equitable access to a comprehensive education for all students.
- Arts education must be supported in provisions relating to early childhood education, afterschool/out-of-school learning, teaching effectiveness, school turnaround, charter schools, and student assessment.
- The U.S. Department of Education should continue to administer a direct, nationally funded, competitive Arts in Education grant program that advances the capacity of the arts to strengthen learning and improve teaching.
ACTION: The HELP committee is accepting public comments on this draft until Monday, February 2. Personalize a letter to send to the committee asking them to continue federal support of arts education.
12/8/14: Make the IRA Rollover Permanent!
Possibly as early as tomorrow, the House is expected to vote on a new stand-alone bill that would make the IRA Rollover a permanent tax incentive. This is a separate bill from last week’s measure passed by the House, which seeks to extend a broader set of tax provisions only through the remainder of 2014. The IRA Rollover allows individuals 70 ½ and older to make tax-free contributions to charities, directly from their IRA account. Donors may contribute up to $100,000. Nonprofit arts organizations have received crucial support for their work through IRA contributions.
ACTION: Take action now and urge your lawmaker to make the IRA rollover permanent!
8/14/14: Encourage the Senate to Support the IRA Charitable Rollover
In July, the House of Representatives passed the America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719) which includes a provision to reinstate and make permanent the IRA charitable rollover. The Senate must consider this bill next, and we’re calling on you to take action and urge your senators to move this legislation forward. The rollover expired at the end of 2013, and if the Senate does not pass this bill before the November elections, it is unlikely that they will do so before the end of 2014.
ACTION: Contact your senators to move this legislation forward.
7/15/14: NEA Funding Restored in the House!
On July 9th, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over NEA funding, approved $138 million in FY15 funding for the NEA – representing an $8 million reduction from current funding. Thanks to your advocacy efforts, on July 15th, the full House Appropriations Committee restored the NEA’s FY15 budget to $146 million. While restoration to $146 million is a victory, PAA continues to advocate for $155 million for the NEA.
ACTION: It is very important to maintain contact with elected officials to let them know about the impact of NEA grants to communities across the country. Sign up for Action Alerts on PAA's website.
7/15/14: Upcoming House Vote to Reinstate IRA Rollover
On July 17th the full House of Representatives is set to vote on legislation to permanently reinstate the IRA charitable rollover. This important provision expired at the end of 2013, greatly reducing the incentive for individuals to support nonprofit arts organizations. The vote will be on H.R. 4719, and the IRA rollover is one of five charitable provisions important to the non-profit sector being considered along with this bill.
ACTION: Tell your representative to reinstate the IRA charitable rollover!
6/12/14: Senate Confirms Dr. Jane Chu as New NEA Chair
On June 12, 2014 the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Jane Chu as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2006, Dr. Chu has served as President and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Many members of the Performing Arts Alliance have worked with her and are pleased that such a smart and engaging colleague with a deep knowledge and understanding of the performing arts field will lead the NEA. We await the President’s approval of the Senate’s vote which will make official Dr. Chu’s appointment to the chairmanship. The Performing Arts Alliance is confident that the NEA—and the arts in our nation—will be strengthened by her leadership.
ACTION: Stay up to date on the latest performing arts advocacy news by signing up become a member of PAA.
5/23/14: EXPIRE Act Stalled in Senate
The EXPIRE Act—which proposed to reinstate the IRA Rollover among many other expired tax provisions—stalled in the full Senate on May 15 when it did not receive enough votes to overcome a filibuster. Meanwhile, in the House, Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL 18th) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd) introduced H.R. 4619 on May 8 which would make this tax provision permanent. PAA continues to advocate for the reinstatement and permanent status of the IRA Rollover by signing on to an open letter to the House Ways and Means Committee from Independent Sector asking them to renew and make permanent the provision and asking committee members to co-sponsor H.R. 4619.
ACTION: Tell your members of Congress how important it is that individual donors be able to support your organization’s work. Take action to reinstate the IRA Rollover on the PAA website.
5/15/14: Limited Expansion of Part 74 Licensing for Wireless Microphones
At an Open Meeting on May 15, the FCC adopted rules expanding Part 74 license eligibility to include sound companies and venues regularly using at least 50 wireless microphones. The rules are intended to ensure interference protection and high quality sound for large events. After the auction, the Commission anticipates there will be one channel in each area which would be available for shared use by wireless microphones and TV white space devices. PAA continues to advocate for two safe-haven channels of spectrum for wireless microphones to protect against interference, as well as eligibility for performing arts venues using at least 25 microphones to obtain a license from the FCC.
ACTION: Read PAA’s Ex Parte Letter to the FCC on May 7.
3/5/14: President Releases FY15 Budget Request for NEA
On March 5, 2014 President Obama released his FY15 budget request which included $146 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). His proposal represents level funding for the agency from FY14. Last year the President proposed $154.5 million but the House proposed allotting only $75 million for the agency. With your advocacy efforts, the NEA's final FY14 budget was announced at $146 million. PAA and the arts community continue to advocate for $155 million in funding for the NEA.
ACTION: Read more about the FY15 Budget and NEA appropriations for in this PAA Advocacy Update.
3/4/14: Arts in Education funding threatened to be Consolidated in FY15 Budget
The President's FY15 budget once again eliminates funding for the $25 million Arts in Education Program at the U.S. Department of Education in favor of consolidating the program into a broader fund for “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education”. The President is proposing that 10 subjects of learning – including geography, foreign language, and the arts – compete against each other for a total FY15 funding pool of only $25 million. Arts advocates are calling on Congress to maintain distinct funding for the Arts in Education Program at a level of $30 million in FY15.
ACTION: Stay up to speed on Art in Education Funding at the Federal level on the PAA website.
2/19/14: TCG and the Performing Arts Visa Working Group Submits Comments on USCIS's Executive in Residence Program
Non-profit arts organizations can incur major reputational and financial ramifications due to visa-related artist cancellations. Following a teleconference that initiated USCIS’s performing arts executives in residence project and their new Ideas Community platform to request feedback on the project, the Performing Arts Visa Working Group collectively submitted comments. This platform launch unfortunatley also follows a recent wave of unexpected processing delays for visas for artists from abroad.
ACTION: Be sure to apply early for any visas you might need! Also look for the most recent updates on how to get the best results for your applications on the Artists From Abroad website. You can also now read the coalition comments here.
2/10/14: Protect Musicians Traveling On Board Airplanes with Instruments!
Musicians often fly with their prized and valuable instruments to performances and engagements around the world where they present live concerts, accompany dancers or play alongside theatre or opera performances. To make air travel easier, Congress passed the 2012 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act that included a requirement for the FAA to set industry-wide standards for the carry-on transport of instruments, protecting musicians. Although the FAA was supposed to have issued rules by Friday, February 14, 2014, it still hasn’t started the process yet.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to sign onto a letter urging the FAA to write these policies!
1/17/14: FY14 Budget Victory for the NEA
On Friday, January 17, 2014 President Obama signed into law the $1.1 trillion spending package passed a few days prior by the House and Senate. Lawmakers reached a deal on this spending package in December 2013 which allocates $146 million to the NEA for FY14. Due to your advocacy efforts, the NEA’s budget has recovered from the 5% cut it received in the FY13 sequester.
ACTION: Read more about this win for the NEA in the PAA's monthly Advocacy Report for January.
1/17/14: FY14 Budget Victory for Arts Education
On Friday, January 17, President Obama signed into law the $1.1 trillion spending package passed a few days prior by the House and Senate. The spending bill allocates $25 million to the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program for FY14 which restores its budget to FY12 funding levels. Thanks to your advocacy the program remains a stand-alone program within the Department of Education and its budget has recovered from the 5% cut it received in the FY13 sequester.
ACTION: Read more about how the arts are impacted by the FY14 Budget in the PAA’s January 2014 Appropriations Update.
1/17/14: Reinstate the IRA Rollover and Support the Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2013
The IRA Charitable Rollover expired at the end of 2013 but this important giving incentive has allowed for millions of dollars of contributions to support the work of nonprofit organizations. It is critical to maintain charitable giving options in order to provide a consistent source of revenue for programs and services to people and communities. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2013 (s. 1772) which would expand and extend this tax incentive, making the provision permanent.
ACTION: Contact your representatives today to request their support of extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover provision and the Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2013.
12/5/13: NEA Releases Arts Economic Impact Research Report
In December, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a preliminary report on the impact of arts and culture on the U.S. economy. Working with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), this report was the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector's contributions to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In early February 2014, the NEA released more detailed data on their blog showing the dollar amount of value that each arts discipline adds to the GDP, an enhancement that the December report didn’t include.
ACTION: Learn more about this report by reading this press release on the NEA website and this post on the NEA blog.
11/18/13: Help Nonprofit Theatres Maintain Private Contributions via Charitable Giving Tax Incentives
On Wednesday, November 20th, members of TCG will join over 200 nonprofit leaders representing the arts and human services organizations on Capitol Hill to petition their representatives to preserve the charitable deduction. The charitable deduction encourages giving to all nonprofit organizations including the nonprofit performing arts. On average, 40% of the annual revenue to the nonprofit performing arts field comes from private contributions. These funds support a number of activities such as the creation and presentation of works of art. They also support programs in which arts and human services organizations partner together to address critical community issues such as education, health, poverty and accessibility to the arts.
ACTION: Urge Congress to preserve the charitable deduction that is responsible for the sustainability of the nonprofit sector.
11/13/13: Rep. Ken Calvert named Chairman of House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior
On November 13, 2014, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) was named as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies which oversees NEA appropriations. TCG and the PAA advocate for federal appropriations for the NEA so that it can continue to support arts organizations, helping them make meaningful connections between their art, artists, and their communities.
ACTION: Learn more about how to advocate for the NEA at the PAA website’s Issue Center.
11/13/13: New Early Childhood Legislation Introduced in the Senate
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and fellow senators introduced early childhood education legislation on November 13 entitled the “Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013” (H.R. 3641). House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-11th-CA) introduced similar legislation in the House. The act establishes a new federal-state partnership supporting four-year old preschool and includes “creative arts expression” as an essential domain of school readiness. It requires state applications for funding to include information about how the state will “coordinate with community based learning resources, such as libraries, arts and arts education programs…” This act draws on the framework for early childhood education that President Obama described in his 2013 State of the Union address.
ACTION: Learn more about advocating for Arts in Education on the PAA website.
10/30/13: New FCC Chairman is Moving Fast to Change Radio Frequency Laws
With the new chairman in place, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is quickly moving forward on spectrum auctions, which is the FCC’s plan to work with broadcasters to voluntarily auction unused spectrum in the television band. While nonprofit performing arts organizations, commercial theatres, schools and performers have all relied on wireless microphones operating within certain frequencies, the FCC wants to auction off portions of this broadcast spectrum called “white space” which may require wireless microphone operations to move which would necessitate the purchase of new sound equipment, and would also likely increase the chance of harmful interference from new white space devices.
ACTION: Contact your representatives today and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013. This bill, introduced by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1-IL), will protect performing arts wireless technology such as microphones and backstage communications systems operating in the "white space."
8/1/13: Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013 Introduced in the House
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st IL) introduced to the House H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, which would set in place certain protections for users of wireless microphones and wireless technologies. The bill asks the Federal Communications Commission to expand eligibility for Part 74 licenses to certain wireless microphone users including the performing arts sector, to establish safe haven channels for wireless microphones, and to authorize access by owners and operators of wireless microphones to the TV bands databases for the purpose of protecting wireless microphone operations from interference. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
ACTION: Contact your Representative and ask them to support H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013 today
7/29/13: TCG and the PAA Host A Capitol Hill Forum on Wireless Technology
TCG along with Rep. Rush and his staff hosted “Pardon the Interruption,” a forum on Capitol Hill addressing the need to protect broadcast and wireless microphones used in the performing arts and other sectors. The event was held in conjunction with Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-1st IL) development of H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, which he introduced to the House on August 1. This forum stressed the importance of wireless technology to the performing arts and other industries’ abilities to produce high quality experiences for their audiences. The FCC was urged to protect wireless microphones when it conducts spectrum auctions. Theatre Communication Group’s Laurie Baskin represented PAA, testifying on a panel of stakeholders that included Julius Knapp, Federal Communications Commission; Tom Pope, First Baptist Church of Glenarden; Louis Libin, Broad Comm., Inc. (representing the NFL); and Maureen Bunyan, ABC 7 local news. Harvey Fierstein, Tony-award winning actor and playwright also participated, delivering testimony on the importance of this issue to the NYC Broadway theatre community. To read Laurie Baskin's complete remarks, click here. To read Harvey Fierstein's complete remarks: click here.
ACTION: Listen to this story from NPR that mentions the forum and talks about this issue. Learn more about white space in the PAA Issue Center.
7/22/13: Huge Cut to the NEA Proposed!
Will you allow the NEA Budget to be cut in half? Take immediate action to protect the NEA. Yesterday the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NEA’s budget, voted to cut the NEA’s FY14 funding to $75 million – down from the current enacted funding level of $146 million. This is disproportionate compared to cuts proposed for other agencies and this appropriation is less than half of the Administration’s FY14 budget request to Congress. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve this $75 million budget, and could consider the bill as early as next week. There is still time for the Committee to make changes to the Bill if Members of Congress hear from you - their constituents.
ACTION: TCG and the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) urge you to take action and ask Congress to fund the NEA at $155 million in 2014! Sending a message to your Member will take two minutes - make sure your voice is heard. Learn more about this disproportionate cut, what may happen as a response in the Senate, and which Members of Congress have the biggest impact on this issue on the PAA website.
7/19/13: U.S. House of Representatives Passes the Student Success Act
The House of Representatives approved the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) which would rewrite the nation's K-12 education law. As passed by the House, the Student Success Act will do a range of things, from eliminating Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and replacing it with state-determined accountability systems to repealing federal “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and granting states the flexibility to develop their own teacher evaluation systems to better gauge an educator’s effectiveness, if they so choose.
ACTION: Learn more about the Student Success Act on the PAA website.
6/24/13: Artist Visa Processing Issue Addressed in Senate Immigration Bill
Improvements to the U.S. visa process for international guest artists are now included in the comprehensive immigration reform package under consideration in the U.S. Senate. Called The Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) provision, these improvements will require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to ensure timely processing for visa petitions filled by or on behalf of nonprofit arts-related organizations. The ARTS provision would improve the reliability of the visa process by reducing total maximum processing times for O and P nonprofit arts-related visa petitions to under 30 days. Currently, the law requires these petitions to be processed within 14 days of filing, but more often than not, the process takes longer than this. Under the ARTS provision, USCIS would be required to treat as a Premium Processing case any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within the required 14-day period. This Premium Processing would waive the $1,250 fee usually assessed for this service—a fee which is unaffordable for most arts organizations. Our nonprofit arts organizations and artists boost international diplomacy by presenting foreign guest artists in performances and education events in our communities.
ACTION: The Senate plans to complete action on its immigration bill by the end of this week, while House consideration begins to move forward. Tell your legislators about the importance of global cultural exchange.
4/9/13: Protect the Charitable Deduction
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
Like thousands of other nonprofits, many performing arts organizations are classified as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. If it were not for this exemption and the deductibility of private contributions, nonprofit performing arts organizations and many other charities would be unable to serve community needs.
ACTION: Urge Congress to preserve the charitable deduction that is responsible for the sustainability of the nonprofit sector. Click here to contact your legislators today!
4/9/13: Cosponsor the Artist Fair-Market Deduction Act
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
Artists, scholars, and the public rely on original manuscripts and supporting material to reveal the artistic underpinnings of existing compositions and inspire the creative works of emerging artists. Encouraging gifts of artistic works to nonprofit cultural organizations helps to preserve our artistic and cultural heritage.
ACTION: Raise your voice to support the Artist-Museum Partnership Act. Click here to generate your letter and contact your legislators today.
4/9/13: Extend the IRA Charitable Rollover
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
The IRA Charitable Rollover provision was reinstated for 2012 and 2013 as part of the fiscal cliff package passed by Congress at the beginning of this year. This important giving incentive has allowed for millions of dollars of new contributions to support the work of nonprofit organizations, and it is critical to maintain charitable giving options for individuals in order to provide a consistent source of revenue for programs and services to people and communities.
ACTION: Your voice makes a difference! Click here to generate you letter and contact your legislators today.
4/9/13: Improve Visa Process for Foreign Guest Artists
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
American nonprofit performing arts organizations provide and important public service by presenting foreign guest artists in performances, educational events, and cultural programs in communities across the country. Delays and inconsistencies by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have made it difficult in the past for international artists to obtain the visas required for entry into the United States. Nonprofit arts organizations confront uncertainty in gaining approval for visa petitions due to lengthy processing times, inconsistent interpretation of statute and implementation of policies, expense, and unwarranted requests for further evidence.
ACTION: Global cultural exchange is important now more than ever! Tell your legislators about the importance of global cultural exchange.
4/9/13: Increase Funding for International Cultural Exchange
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
The State Department’s Cultural Programs Division is the principal office focused on cultural diplomacy. Ask your Representative and Senators to direct the State Department to appropriate a minimum of $15 million in FY14 for cultural exchange programs at the U.S. Department of State.
ACTION: Make a difference! Send your legislators a personalized message.
4/9/13: Strengthen Arts Education in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
Despite overwhelming public support for arts education, access to arts education in our schools is eroding. School systems are focusing largely on reading and math at the expense of arts education and other core subjects of learning.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to support strengthening arts education in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Make your voice heard now!
4/9/13: Support FY14 Arts in Education Funding
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
The U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program provides federal support to performing arts organizations for the development, evaluation, and dissemination of model programs that integrate arts instruction into other subject areas. Ask your Representative and Senators to appropriate $30 million for the Arts in Education program in the FY14 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Any reduction below $30 million would result in under-funding multiyear projects that are midstream.
ACTION: Take action today! Write to your legislators about the importance of Arts in Education Funding.
4/9/13: Support FY14 Funding for the NEA
Arts Advocacy Day Action Alert
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a critical source of federal support for performing arts organizations around the country. Through direct grants and support to state arts agencies, the NEA awards more than 2,000 grants each year to nonprofit performing arts organizations for projects that widen citizen access to the arts, making the cultural, educational, and economic benefits of the arts available to more communities. With the FY14 budget process underway, please take a moment to write to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support funding for the NEA at $155 million.
ACTION: Make your voice heard! Ask your legislators to support funding the NEA at $155 million.
Click here to see archived Action Alerts.