Senate to Act on Year-End Priorities - (December 21, 2009)
All Eyes on Senate as Tax and Health Care Measures Await Action
Washington, D.C. - As the clock ticks down to the holidays, two measures of concern to orchestras and the broader nonprofit community await action.
The health care reform bill under debate in the Senate includes a provision that would provide relief to small businesses, including nonprofit organizations. The League and orchestras have weighed in with Congress to urge that nonprofits will be eligible for any incentives or relief for employers providing health insurance coverage. Senate leaders expect to vote on their bill by Christmas Eve.
Several tax provisions are set to expire December 31, including the IRA Charitable Rollover, an important incentive to charitable giving. The IRA Rollover allows donors to make a charitable gift directly from an IRA without the amount being subject to tax. If the provision is not extended by the year's end, it may be reinstated in 2010. The League and orchestras are calling on Congress to take immediate action to ensure that donors can make uninterrupted use of the IRA Charitable Rollover. The House passed an extension of the IRA Rollover on December 9. Senate action is uncertain as the health care debate remains center stage.
Rosen Addresses NEA Research Forum
League President and CEO Jesse Rosen was one of three respondents invited to speak at a December 10 forum hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts - and simulcast live online – regarding the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. More than 40 representatives from national and regional arts organizations discussed the nation's largest and most representative study of adults' arts participation habits. The report charts declining attendance rates for ballet, classical music, jazz, and theatre, and increasing participation in the arts through new media. Rosen said, “Our own research confirms that something big is changing in the way Americans participate in all types of activities. That is why orchestras across the country are embracing innovative strategies for bringing classical music to a broader cross-section of the American public."
President Says "Art Strengthens America"
President Obama's remarks at the December 6 Kennedy Center Honors included the following statement of support for the arts in America:
"In times of war and sacrifice, the arts -- and these artists —- remind us to sing and to laugh and to live. In times of plenty, they challenge our conscience and implore us to remember the least among us. In moments of division or doubt, they compel us to see the common values that we share; the ideals to which we aspire, even if we sometimes fall short. In days of hardship, they renew our hope that brighter days are still ahead. So let's never forget that art strengthens America. And that's why we're making sure that America strengthens its arts. It's why we're reenergizing the National Endowment of the Arts. That's why we're helping to sustain jobs in arts communities across the country. It's why we're supporting arts education in our schools, and why Michelle and I have hosted students here at the White House to experience the best of American poetry and music."
NEA and Arts Education Funding Increase
Congress has set the FY2010 funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, including increases in funding for both accounts.
An increase of $12.5 million for the NEA brings the agency's funding level to a total of $167.5 million. The newest grant application guidelines will be announced in January. In the meantime, the first round of awards to orchestras for FY10 are available on the League website.
Arts in Education funding at the U.S. Department of Education increased by $2 million for FY10. The increase in funding provides for a new competitive grant round for the Model Development and Dissemination grant program. Stay tuned for further information as the guidelines for this highly competitive application process become available.
Home for the Holidays
While Congress has stayed in Washington far longer than usual, your federal policymakers will soon be returning to their home districts and states. Take the opportunity to invite your elected officials to see your orchestra in action. Invite your members of Congress and staff to meet with you and show them, first hand, how your community benefits from your orchestra.
The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America