August 14, 2015
While Congress Is Out, Reach Out
Despite significant progress made in both chambers to pass a budget for fiscal year 2016, legislation funding the National Endowment for the Arts and most federal agencies appears to be in jeopardy, with less than two months before current appropriations expire. Holding up the appropriations process, which was on track to pass under a regular schedule for the first time since FY2010, are a number of controversial issues unrelated to the arts endowment. Issues such as the use of the Confederate flag on public lands as well as whether the federal government should continue to provide funding to Planned Parenthood clinics are just two examples that have caused work on appropriations bills to stall. With both chambers out of session until after Labor Day, it is looking increasingly likely that members from both parties will have to support a continuing resolution (CR) in order to avoid a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends on October 1.
While deterioration of the budget process is frustrating, it is important to note that both the House and Senate voiced support for the NEA by endorsing level funding for the agency, despite ongoing pressure to cut funding for agencies brought on by sequestration, which requires reductions in funding each year until FY2021. Should Congress pursue a CR in September, the NEA’s budget should remain unchanged.
With Congress out of session and members of Congress in their home states, now is the best time of year to reach out and thank them for their support for the NEA. If you haven’t spoken to congressional staff since Arts Advocacy Day (or earlier), August is a great time to extend appreciation for the decision of both chambers to support level funding for the NEA for FY2016. Beyond the budget, try to use this month—when schedules are lighter—to begin or to build upon your existing relationships with elected officials and staff. If there is an interesting event that can be used to highlight federal support for the arts, extend an invitation. If timing won’t allow for such an opportunity, send congressional staff a brief memo outlining some of the great work your agency has undertaken this year, with an offer to follow up in person.
This type of outreach is usually appreciated by staff, and can go a long way toward building the type of rapport that allows for frank communication should events in Washington require such interaction. If you have any questions about the types of events or information you may want to share with your member of Congress and their staff, please don’t hesitate to call or write.
In this Issue
State to State
- Nevada: New SAA Revenue Stream from Entertainment Tax
- Wyoming: 125 Days of Arts and Humanities
- Michigan: Equipment & Supplies Grant for Schools
- Colorado: Space to Create, Colorado
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