Thursday, August 01, 2013

National Endowment for the Arts

Dear Members and friends:  It's important that the National Endowment for the Arts get their funding.  They in turn support the Illinois Arts Council where you can apply for grants and information.  The Illinois Arts Council funnels money to arts organizations around the state and the Department of Cultural Affairs where you again can apply for grants, take advantage of their lectures, exhibit your work at the Cultural Center, and support a vibrant art community. The arts need your help.

40!  That’s how many years that federal support for the arts and humanities would be set back as a result of the devastating cuts in the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill currently moving through the House.
This FY 2014 funding bill would cut the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by 49 percent, leaving them each with only a $75 million budget. This budget reduction would represent the biggest cut in the history of these agencies, even worse than the cuts experienced during the Culture Wars of the 1990s. The last time the NEA’s budget was this low was in 1974.
Last week, we reported the cuts made in Subcommittee and this week, the House Full Appropriations Committee maintained the cuts in the bill.  Yesterday, Ranking Democrat of the Committee Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. David Price (D-NC) offered an amendment in committee to restore the NEA cuts, but it was rejected along party line votes.  Democrats are so furious with the entire bill that they are offering numerous amendments to slow down the movement of the bill. In fact, the Chairman of the Full Appropriations Committee has suspended the mark-up hearing on the bill until after Congress returns from their 5-week recess on September 9th.
If this budget is enacted, we project about half as many direct grants will be made to arts organizations across the country and the NEA would have to cut in half the support it gives to state arts agencies. In addition to the direct support lost, the impact on arts organizations would be even broader as each dollar from an NEA grant helps to leverage at least $8 from other state, local, and private sources.
Congressional Next Steps:
Aug. 5-Sept. 9:   Congress goes back home for a five-week district recess/work period.
September - December:   The House Full Appropriations Committee will likely resume mark-up of the FY 2014 Interior bill in order to finish reporting it out of committee.  The bill could then come to the House floor for a full vote.  At that time, we anticipate two kinds of floor amendments. Conservatives could attempt to further cut arts funding and the bipartisan members of the Congressional Arts Caucus will likely attempt to restore much of the cut funds back into the bill.  We will call on grassroots advocates at this time to send many emails to their House members.  Simultaneously, the Senate Appropriations Interior Subcommittee and Full Committee will also begin mark-up of their version of the FY 2014 Interior bill.  We anticipate much higher funding levels for the NEA and NEH in the Senate version of the bill.
Additionally during this period, we expect Senate action on the elementary and secondary education act reauthorization as well as tax reform bills coming out of the House and Senate that would impact the charitable deduction. And to add to the drama, there will likely be a showdown on increasing the federal debt ceiling of the current fiscal year in order to keep the government running.
September 30th:   This marks the official end of the FY 2013 federal budget.  Because it is highly unlikely that Congress will complete work on the FY 2014 Appropriations bills by October 1st, it will have to pass a series of Continuing Resolutions to keep the federal government running until these bills are negotiated and finalized with the House, Senate, and White House.  This could go on for months.
Your Next Steps:
This is an excellent time to bring Congressional, media, and general public awareness to this issue before the bill reaches the floor. We recommend the following:
  1. Share your story of how NEA and NEH direct funding as well as indirect funding flowing from the state arts agencies have an important impact on your organization and the community you serve. Use our online media tool to contact your local media.
  2. Make an appointment to meet with representatives of your Congressperson’s local district office in order to register concern about the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill. Look up the District Office info under the Member’s name.
  3. If you haven’t sent an email to your House and Senate members on this issue yet, please do so at our Action Center.  We will ask you to do it one more time in preparation for a floor vote in the fall.
  4. Please post this alert to your friends on your social media in order to build national attention to this issue.