August 3, 2021
Press for Federal Arts Funding during August Recess
As of the time I am writing this column, members of the U.S. Senate are working furiously to complete work on a significant infrastructure bill that provides more than $500 billion in new federal spending intended to modernize the nation’s transportation and energy sectors. While the arts are not specifically addressed in this legislation, completion of the bill is significant for meaningful action on arts policy because the effort and focus being paid toward the infrastructure bill has forced Congress to delay working on almost anything else.
While this delay is frustrating, if understandable, it does not minimize the exciting developments we’ve seen in recent months. As we alerted you to last month, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations approved a $33.5 million increase in the fiscal year 2022 appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This matches the amount proposed by the White House, which would bring the agency’s funding level up to $201 million. The bill, which acknowledges the value of the NEA’s “longstanding collaborative relationship” with states, is awaiting a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. However, because the chamber has already adjourned for the summer, the earliest that can occur is in September.
The impact of the slower pace the Congress has taken on its FY2022 appropriations means that it is very likely that it will need to pass a continuing resolution of some length (likely a few months), to allow the work to be completed.
Therefore, the month of August is an excellent time to reach out to your congressional delegation to let them know that you appreciate the support shown for the arts by Congress. When you do, please consider mentioning the following:
- Thank them for their support of the arts over the past year, and specifically for recognizing the need to support artists and venues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Urge them to support funding the NEA at $201 million for FY2022, and reinforce the tremendous success of the federal-state partnership that directs 40% of the Arts Endowment’s grant funding to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations.
- Use the opportunity to update their staff about recent developments at your agency, and how an increase of this size would positively impact communities in your state.
As D.C. begins to slow down (slightly) for the August recess, I’d like to thank all of you for your hard work and attention during this difficult year. As Congress continues to consider the largest increase in funding for the NEA in some time, there is no question that the reason we have reached this point is because of all of you. Thank you so much, and I look forward to working with you all in the months ahead.
In this Issue
From the President and CEO
State to State
- South Carolina: Learning Initiative Partnership
- Idaho: Mexican Music Project
- Massachusetts: Recovery Recommendations
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