NASAA Notes: August 2016

August 5, 2016

Federal Arts Issues Today

With Congress out of session and not scheduled to return until mid-September, August provides all of us an opportunity to take a step back and assess the year to date.

NEA Appropriation

As we’ve mentioned, NASAA and other arts organizations were successful in petitioning Congress to once again support an increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). We are quite pleased about this development, as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, which are both funded in the same appropriations bill, received significant (more than $100 million) reductions. While this development is a positive reflection of the support Congress continues to bestow on the NEA (and the federal-state partnership), unfortunately, due in large part to ongoing fundamental disagreements between the Republican-led Congress and President Obama, these gains are unlikely to be realized this year. This is because both the House and Senate bills include provisions that would undermine some of the president’s biggest policy priorities. As a result, Congress will almost certainly have to pass a continuing resolution (CR) when it returns in September to avoid a government shutdown beginning on October 1. While these bills can vary in length, the belief at this time is that the CR would be for six months and would extend funding for all federal agencies at current levels.

Save America’s Treasures Program

The Save America’s Treasures initiative was an effort to preserve and protect historic buildings, art and published works. Established during the Clinton administration, the program was a public-private partnership between the U.S. National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While the Bush administration continued funding, it was eliminated under President Obama. This year’s House of Representatives appropriations bill, however, fully restored funding for the program for the first time in seven years. While we are pleased with this development, that result would not be realized should Congress pass a CR. Like an increase for the NEA, that funding would not be part of the legislation.

Education Reform Implementation

As you likely recall, last year, the president signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Included in that legislation was an expansion within the nation’s premier public education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of the role of the arts in public school curricula. That law stated explicitly that the arts were included within the law’s definition of a “well-rounded” education, a designation critical for qualifying for Title I funding. Since that law’s passage, NASAA has followed the Obama administration’s implementation of the law closely, and is concerned that a recently proposed draft rule by the U.S. Department of Education omitted the arts under its definition of a “well-rounded” education. While inclusion in this rule making is not essential for qualification for funding (because the arts were included in the definition that became law), the department’s failure to list the arts is troubling and sends a bad signal to states. As a result, NASAA has already submitted formal comments to the Department of Education urging it to include the arts when the rule is finalized later this year.

NASAA will continue monitor all of these issues closely and keep you apprised of any news. In the meantime, I hope you have a great month of August and want to thank you for your attention to these issues all year.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

From the CEO

Research on Demand




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