NASAA Notes: April 2018

April 4, 2018

Congress Passes Funding Bill, Must Immediately Transition to Next Year's

After weeks of intense negotiations, House and Senate leaders last month were able to cobble together enough votes to pass legislation funding the federal government through fiscal year 2018 hours before reaching the deadline. In doing so, Congress was able to break a cycle of short-term continuing resolutions that, while allowing agencies to continue to receive appropriations, limited their ability to take decisions with long-term implications. With the bill now signed into law, Congress and the Trump administration must immediately turn to discussions related to the FY2019 spending bill, which will need to be passed by September 30.

For the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), passage of the bill was a major step forward. Not only is the agency now given the certainty it needs to operate properly, but having faced a recommendation of elimination by the President at the beginning of the FY2018 appropriations process, it actually ended that process with an increase in funding of about $3 million, raising the agency’s appropriation to just shy of $153 million. In providing this level of support, Congress conveyed to the administration continued support for the federal-state partnership that directs 40% of the agency’s grant dollars to state and regional arts organizations. Congress also encouraged the NEA and state arts agencies to continue to pursue programs that support wounded veterans through exposure to arts programming and therapy.

As fantastic as the last appropriations bill is, it is critical that we as arts advocates do not take anything for granted. Congress is currently in the midst of a two-week recess, but when it returns, it is expected to begin working on FY2019 appropriations legislation. As it did last year, the Trump administration has recommended eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. While we saw strong bipartisan opposition to this proposal last year, and expect the same from our congressional champions this year, it is imperative that we continue to make the case for why the NEA merits continued support from Congress.

If you have the opportunity, please reach out to elected members of the House and Senate and thank them for supporting an increase in funding for the NEA. Please make sure they are aware that the agency is not out of the woods yet and continues to face the threat of elimination. Beyond this point, let them know about all of the interesting things that are currently happening at your state arts agency. It is important that we assure congressional offices that the increase in funding to the NEA will not be wasted, and that Congress can feel comfortable appropriating increases in the future. Finally, if you have an interesting event or performance coming up, invite the member of Congress and their staff to attend. Offering this firsthand exposure to the arts in their districts and states is invaluable in solidifying a member of Congress’s support for the arts, making the connection tangible and real.

In the next few weeks, expect to hear more from NASAA as the appropriations process begins in full. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything we can do to be helpful.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

Announcements and Resources

Legislative Updates

State to State

Research on Demand

More Notes from NASAA

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