NASAA Notes: February 2022

February 2, 2022

Waiting for Passage of FY2022 Budget Is Opportunity to Request Arts Support

After a disappointing ending to 2021, President Biden and congressional Democrats entered this year with an ambitious agenda. They hoped to pass the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills, resolve any lingering disagreements and pass the President’s top legislative priority, the Build Back Better Act (BBB), and enact election reform legislation. February arrives with work on all three in a state of limbo. Negotiations around the BBB haven’t resumed, efforts to pass election reform failed, and no deal has yet been reached on the budget, with current funding set to expire on February 18.

While overall progress has been lacking, the year was not totally fruitless. For example, there is an emerging sentiment that the ongoing impacts of the pandemic may necessitate additional relief funding for industries that have suffered significant losses. This additional support would likely be blended with the appropriations bill, which hopefully will pass in the next few weeks. As arts advocates, the NASAA team is laser-focused on this opportunity, and we are meeting regularly with policymakers to make the case for support for artists and venues hard-hit by COVID-19 and the recent surge in cases. Discussions are in the early phases, but we hope to have more to report about this soon.

In the meantime, we do think it would be useful, if you haven’t done so yet, to touch base with your members of Congress and urge their support for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. (You’ll recall that the House passed legislation funding the agency at $201 million for FY2022, an increase of $33.5 million over its current level.) In the event that COVID-19 relief is included in the FY2022 appropriations package, it also would be helpful to convey to your delegation the significant impact to artists, arts organizations and venues if Congress supported this aid. We recognize how difficult the past two years have been for our field, and it is vitally important to keep members of Congress (and their staff) aware that the struggle remains.

A note on timing: If you are considering making outreach, I would suggest doing so as soon as possible. While a deal may seem far from being reached at the moment, things can resolve suddenly, so there is no time to waste. If you have any questions about the specifics and how best to communicate with your congressional representatives, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.