NASAA Notes: May 2015

May 4, 2015

State Legislative Highlights

The NASAA board of directors held its spring meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. The biggest news from that gathering, of course, was the appointment of Pam Breaux as NASAA’s next CEO! Many thanks to all of you who have written or called to express your congratulations and support for Pam. The board and staff are thrilled, and we’re looking forward to her July 6 starting date.

NASAA board meetings offer a great opportunity to check in on the “state of the state arts agencies” around the nation. And it’s certainly been an action-packed spring! State legislative sessions (still under way for some of you) have presented a mixture of victories and losses for the arts. Here are a few examples.

Arts Budget Bills

You’ve likely heard the sobering news that the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA) will sustain a $1 million budget cut for fiscal year 2016. Following the announcement of that reduction, ACA moved swiftly to adjust its programs. But the agency also has asserted its resolve and focus on the future by preparing to launch NEXT50, “a new journey of exploration and discovery.” This campaign will use the occasions of the agency’s 50th anniversary and a new planning process to map a “bold way forward” for the state’s arts sector and assert the value of the arts council. Keep an eye on Arizona in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, there is news to celebrate in Georgia. The state budget passed by the general assembly for fiscal year 2016 has an increase of $300,000 for the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA)―a rise of about 50%―pending the governor’s approval. In recent years, GCA has been ranked last in per capita spending on the arts. It has, however, made the most of every dollar by instituting a retooled grant program, ramping up arts education efforts, and rolling out a host of partnerships and recognition programs. This excellent Impact Map of its grants and services shows GCA’s extensive reach, which new resources would certainly amplify. Atta-way, Georgia!

In early July, NASAA will share fiscal year 2016 appropriations projections for all of the states and jurisdictions. Stay on the lookout for an e-mail about our spring survey and be sure to contribute your information to that report.

Cultural Districts

2015 might end up being a big year for the expansion of state level arts and creative districts. The 13 existing state programs all are working on designating new districts; South Carolina Arts Commission designated Rock Hill’s downtown as its first state-recognized cultural district earlier this year. Bills in New Jersey and California propose the creation of new state certification programs. Massachusetts is attempting to add a range of tax incentives to its program, and Texas is hoping for an expansion of grant funds to support organizations in its arts districts.

While none of this new legislation has been enacted as of this writing, such a flurry of activity points to the power of creative place making in state policy portfolios. Check out NASAA’s new Creative Place-Making Research & Resources page.

Public Art

A few states have confronted threats to percent for art policies again this year. Alaska had to defend its program from a legislative repeal, as did Washington state. In Oklahoma, an effort was made to make public art expenditures in the state optional rather than mandatory. To date, none of these attempts to undermine public art policies has made it to the floor of states’ full legislatures, but they remind us all to constantly reinforce the many benefits of public art. NASAA has a great Percent for Art Policy Brief that can help.

Not all public art news this year is glum. Massachusetts aims to launch a new program soon, following the creation of a new public art policy via executive order in December. And the management of the Oklahoma public art program is being transferred from the state historical society to the arts council.

Want More Scoop? Just Ask!

NASAA constantly is scanning the field for new legislative and programmatic developments. We keep tabs on state arts agencies’ innovative initiatives, grant policies, grant expenditures, structural changes, creative economy efforts, multiagency partnerships and more. No matter what your area of interest is, chances are good that a member of our multitalented research team can help!

Don’t be shy, because we love hearing from you―in fact, we answer hundreds of your questions each year. So drop us a line, tell us what “inquiring minds” in your state want to know and share your own news.

Together, state arts agencies and NASAA comprise a powerful learning community―one that sparks fresh ideas and facilitates the transfer of lessons learned (occasionally the hard way) across state lines. We look forward to continuing the ongoing exchange about what matters most to your agency and the citizens you serve.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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