NASAA Notes: March 2015

March 10, 2015

Arts Advocacy Plan: NEA, Education

Arts advocates from all over the country are making plans to travel to Washington, D.C., for Arts Advocacy Day, March 23-24, to make the case to Congress for the arts in federal policy. This year’s event comes at an ideal time. President Obama submitted his budget proposal to Congress in early February, in which he requested a modest increase (slightly less than $2 million) in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for fiscal year 2016. As Congress begins the process of holding hearings and writing the FY2016 appropriations bill, it is now our turn to make the case that Congress should increase funding for the agency.

If you are able to come to Washington, we appreciate your participation and look forward to seeing you. If you are unable to attend, you can still have a voice in this process by reaching out to your elected members of the House and Senate to urge support for the arts.

Increasing NEA Funding

This year, NASAA and other arts organizations have developed a diverse and thoughtful agenda for our Arts Advocacy Day meetings. Our primary request of legislators is that they increase NEA funding from $146 million to $155 million. In asking for this appropriation from your members of Congress, consider discussing the role your agency plays in driving arts and innovation in your state. This is extremely important for several reasons. First, while the federal-state partnership that directs 40% of the NEA’s programmatic funds to state arts agencies is familiar to most of us, and is strongly supported by key legislators and staff, that information may not be widely known by the dozens of new members of Congress and staff who were sworn in this year. Second, when the Republican Party swept the election last fall, a key component of its platform was to reduce the size and funding of federal agencies. Educating legislators about the unique partnership that drives NEA funding directly to states will be very valuable in securing support for this agency, so take every opportunity to tell the story of the NEA’s value to your state. The impact of state arts agency funding has been substantial: Last year, in combination with approximately $307 million in state appropriations, the federal-state partnership supported more than 23,000 grants in 5,000 communities across the United States.

Including the Arts in Education

Beyond funding for the NEA, NASAA has been deeply involved in urging members of Congress to support inclusion of the arts in education programs and funding. We were pleased when the Obama administration announced that it would not pursue elimination of the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education—a proposal that appeared in each of the president’s previous budget requests, and that NASAA and other arts advocates successfully lobbied Congress to oppose. This year, we are focusing on education reform proposals. For the first time since 2006, when the No Child Left Behind Act expired, Congress appears poised to pass legislation amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the preeminent federal law governing public education. As Congress works on this legislation, NASAA will work to advocate for the inclusion of the arts in education programs, including science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) programs.

Whether or not you are able to make it to D.C. later this month, please reach out to your members of Congress and urge support for the arts. Given the new composition of Congress, it is especially important that members from both parties hear from state arts agencies about the importance of federal investment in arts and culture. As always, if you have any questions, or would like state-specific information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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