April 6, 2015
Make Contact with Congress
March was an exciting month for the arts and state arts agencies. ArtsWA Executive Director Karen Hanan was invited by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a member of House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (which has jurisdiction over the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA]), to testify before the panel. Karen did an exceptional job in making the case for the NEA and the federal-state partnership. In addition, written testimony was submitted by Ohio Arts Council Chair Jeff Rich and by NASAA. Following this was a very successful Arts Advocacy Day, where state arts agencies were well represented among the attendees.
I want to thank Karen and all of you who participated in Arts Advocacy Day, whether you came to Washington to meet with your legislators in person, made calls or wrote letters. The efforts of our members are always important, but action this year is especially critical for several reasons.
First, given the Republicans’ sweeping electoral victory last fall, there are a lot of new members of both the House and Senate who need to hear from state arts agencies about why federal investment in the NEA is important. Second, the fact that both houses of Congress are under the control of the same party for the first time since 2010 means that the polarizing dynamic that has stymied legislation in recent years is no longer in place. As a result, we likely will see major legislation being considered and advanced in Congress once again.
We are already seeing this with respect to education reform. Congress has not been able to pass legislation amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since 2001, when it passed the No Child Left Behind Act. That legislation expired in 2006 and has not been reauthorized. While the new Congress has been in session for only three months, both chambers have proposed comprehensive legislation revamping federal education policy. Those efforts are led by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. While the bills have not yet reached the level of support necessary for passage, the quick pace set for the legislation underscores how vital it is that state arts agencies continue to inform members of Congress about policy priorities.
Congress is currently in the midst of a two-week recess for the Easter and Passover holidays. When it returns on Monday, work is expected to begin on several issues of importance to the arts, including the NEA’s budget, education reform and tax reform. Therefore, if you have not yet done so, please reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to support public funding for the arts. If you have already had an initial conversation with your congressional delegation, consider additional opportunities for outreach. For instance, if there is an interesting arts event coming up, I urge you to consider asking your members of Congress and their staff to attend. There is no better way to solidify the value of the arts in your members’ districts than by inviting them to engage.
The next few months promise to be a busy time in Washington, and NASAA will continue to keep you updated as events unfold. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me at 202-540-9162, email@example.com.
In this Issue
State to State
- Florida: Poet Laureate Program Renewed and Formalized
- Utah: Arts and Culture Business Alliance
- D.C.: MuralsDC
Executive Director's Column
Research on DemandSubscribe
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