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NEA Announces 2nd Round FY14 Grants

April 23, 2014

NEA Announces Second Round of FY14 Grants

Orchestras in 51 communities will offer a variety of engaging, educational and innovative programming, as well as bring music to underserved regions and populations thanks to $1,237,500 in Art Works, Part 2 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This essential support will enable orchestras to present live music experiences, make recordings and broadcasts, and provide valuable music education programs. NEA funding increases access to music in communities of all sizes nationwide, and in addition to providing direct support for local projects, the award of an NEA grant also enhances the ability of grantees to pursue support from other sources like private foundations, corporations, and individual contributors. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients, and on average, each NEA grantee far exceeds that requirement and generates at least nine dollars for every one dollar the NEA gives.

The League submits written testimony to Congress in support of NEA funding every year, provides orchestras with customized tips for applying for an NEA grant, and complies the project descriptions for grants awarded to orchestras and projects related to the orchestra field. Complete lists of grant amounts and project descriptions for awards in all disciplines may be found on the NEA website in a state-by-state listing or a discipline/field listing. In addition, the NEA maintains an online grant search system which allows members of the public to search all of the NEA's grants since 2000 using a variety of attributes to customize search results.

View Complete Orchestra Project Descriptions


FY15 NEA Grant Application Deadlines

The NEA’s next FY15 Application deadlines are May 8, 2014 for Challenge America Fast-Track and July 24, 2014 for Art Works, Part 2.

Members attending the League’s national Conference this June may schedule a one-on-one appointment to discuss the NEA grant process with an NEA music specialist. Both Court Burns and Anya Nykyforiak will be at the League’s Conference in Seattle this year, so please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read the League’s Tips for Orchestras Preparing an FY15 Application

Designated Ports for International Travel with Instruments Containing Protected Species

If you plan to travel internationally with musical instruments that contain Brazilian rosewood, elephant ivory, tortoiseshell, or another protected animal or plant species, you must travel through specific designated ports.

ANIMAL

If your musical instrument contains elephant ivory, tortoiseshell, or another protected animal-derived species, you will need to travel through one of the following 18 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated ports:

  • ALASKA: Anchorage
  • CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles
  • CALIFORNIA: San Francisco
  • FLORIDA: Miami
  • GEORGIA: Atlanta
  • HAWAII: Honolulu
  • ILLINOIS: Chicago
  • KENTUCKY: Louisville
  • LOUISIANA: New Orleans
  • MARYLAND: Baltimore
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Boston
  • NEW JERSEY: Newark
  • NEW YORK: New York
  • OREGON: Portland
  • TENNESSEE: Memphis
  • TEXAS: Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • TEXAS: Houston
  • WASHINGTON: Seattle

PLANT If your musical instrument contains a CITES-listed plant species, such as Brazilian rosewood, you will need to travel through one of the following 15 USDA-APHIS CITES designated ports:

  • ARIZONA: Nogalez
  • CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles
  • CALIFORNIA: San Diego
  • CALIFORNIA: San Francisco
  • FLORIDA: Miami
  • FLORIDA: Orlando
  • GEORGIA: Atlanta
  • GUAM: Barrigada
  • HAWAII: Honolulu
  • NEW JERSEY: Linden (Newark)
  • NEW YORK: New York
  • PUERTO RICO, San Juan
  • TEXAS: Brownsville
  • TEXAS: Houston
  • WASHINGTON: Seattle

ANIMAL AND PLANT Please confirm with the regional authority whether separate inspections will be required.

If your musical instrument contains both protected animal and plant species, you may need to go through two separate inspections at separate facilities – be sure to phone the regional authority in advance to determine whether this is the case. The following nine cities have both FWS and USDA-APHIS designated ports (please refer to the links above for inspection station addresses):

  • CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles
  • CALIFORNIA: San Francisco
  • FLORIDA: Miami
  • GEORGIA: Atlanta
  • HAWAII: Honolulu
  • NEW JERSEY: Linden (Newark)
  • NEW YORK: New York
  • TEXAS: Houston
  • WASHINGTON: Seattle

Reach Out to Congress on March 25, National Arts Advocacy Day 2014

March 24, 2014

March 25 is National Arts Advocacy Day, a special coordinated moment for arts advocates across the country to speak up with one voice in support of the arts! As a national co-sponsor of Arts Advocacy Day and part of its legislative planning committee, the League helps to create the requests and key talking points for arts advocates, whether they come to the nation's capital or participate from home throughout the year. Please take a few moments to contact your Senators and Representative on the issues that matter most to you!

1) Write to Congress on March 25
Choose any of our policy issues that impact orchestras, such as protecting charitable giving incentives, improving the visa policy for engaging foreign guest artists, strengthening arts in education in our nation's schools, and supporting the capacity for the National Endowment for the Arts to expand public access to performances, preserve great classical works, and nurture the creative endeavors of contemporary classical musicians, composers, and conductors. Then with a few details from home, customize letters to Congress the League has begun for you. Your elected officials need to hear about the impact national policies have on local communities! Make sure Congress hears from you!

Click here to see the full range of issue areas impacting orchestras and choose one or two that matter the most to you.

2) Engage with elected officials at home

The most powerful advocacy happens regularly and in person, so take some time to maintain relationships throughout the year. View our 2014 Calendar of Advocacy Opportunities to see when your Representative or Senators are at home for a work period: invite them to tour your offices, attend an event, and see powerful community programs in action.

Share your stories with us and don't hesitate to contact the League with any questions. Thank you for joining advocates nationwide in support of the arts on Arts Advocacy Day and every day!

League Weighs in on Ivory and Instruments

March 21, 2014

Yesterday, the League made the case for protecting international travel with musical instruments at a public meeting of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking. The statement calls on the Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to take into full account the essential nature of international travel with musical instruments, and to work with the music community to develop policies that support conservation efforts while also protecting international cultural activity.

On February 25, 2014, new strict limits immediately took effect for traveling with instruments that contain African elephant ivory. In an effort to protect African elephants from poaching by combating illegal trade in ivory, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ordered strict enforcement procedures related to the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act. According to the broad terms of the order, many instruments containing African elephant ivory may not be allowed into the U.S., even if a musician is simply returning with instruments in his or her personal possession.

We fully support efforts to protect endangered species. We are concerned by very specific aspects of the ban that will significantly impact musical activity, and we are seeking a policy solution in partnership with our colleagues at the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, Chamber Music America, the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers, and NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants.

Orchestras regularly invite international artists to perform for U.S. audiences, tour internationally, and musicians frequently travel abroad to perform as soloists and members of small ensembles. A great many musicians, particularly string players, perform with instruments that contain small amounts of elephant ivory, most commonly found in the tips of fine bows. Ivory may also be found in an array of string instruments, wind instruments, and certain percussion instruments. Musical instruments currently in use that contain African elephant ivory, while legally manufactured and acquired, are likely to have been purchased after ban’s cut-off date of 1976, and will be completely prohibited from entering or re-entering into the U.S.

The League is in ongoing dialogue with policy leaders to seek both short and long-term solutions that address wildlife conservation goals while also protecting international musical activity that requires musicians to travel across borders with the tools of their trade.

Please find more on the rules for traveling with instruments containing protected species material through the following links to the League’s website.

Many unanswered questions remain about the process for being in compliance with these new rules, and the actual timeline for enforcement at U.S. borders is unclear. We will let you know as soon as we find answers. In the meantime, please contact the League’s Washington, D.C. office for more information.

Pernambuco Exemption and Conservation

As a reminder, bows made with pernambuco wood are exempt from requiring a permit, provided they do not also contain ivory or other protected species. The League partnered with U.S. bow makers, NAMM: The International Music Products Association, and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) to successfully protect the ability of orchestras to travel internationally with their instruments. At the 2007 CITES meeting, negotiators settled on adding the tree to the endangered species list, but applying the listing only to "logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets...," specifying that finished bows that are transported internationally would not be subject to CITES permit and certification requirements.

A letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior officially confirms that finished bows made of pernambuco wood can be transported across international borders.  The letter can be helpful for musicians to carry while traveling with bows as they pass through customs.

Essential Conservation Efforts

While protected species pose a number of challenges, it is important to note that the issue of conserving the pernambuco tree remains. To preserve the ability of musicians to travel with their bows—and to sustain the long-term viability of this important natural resource—orchestras can participate in the conservation effort.

Ivory Ban Impact on Orchestras

On February 25, 2014, new strict limits immediately took effect for traveling with instruments that contain elephant ivory.  Following a new Obama Administration effort to protect African elephants from poaching by combating illegal trade in ivory, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ordered strict enforcement procedures related to the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act. According to the order, many instruments containing African elephant ivory will not be allowed into the U.S., even if a musician is simply returning to the U.S. with instruments in their personal possession, not intended for sale. The timeframe for actual implementation of this as musicians travel through U.S. Customs is uncertain.

Under the new rules, a musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory may only be brought into the U.S. if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • Was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976;
  • Has not subsequently been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit since February 26, 1976;
  • The person or group qualifies for a CITES musical instrument certificate; and
  • The musical instrument containing African elephant ivory is accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument certificate or an equivalent CITES document.

It is not uncommon for professional orchestra musicians, particularly string players, to perform with instruments that contain small amounts of ivory, most frequently found in the tips of bows. It can be difficult to distinguish African elephant ivory from other types of ivory used in minute amounts. A great many musical instruments containing African elephant ivory, while legally manufactured and acquired, would have been purchased after 1976, and will now be completely prohibited from entering into the U.S. Still others that have not been sold since 1976 may be missing key documentation. The League is in ongoing dialogue with the USFWS to seek a solution that addresses wildlife conservation goals while also protecting international musical activity that requires musicians to travel across borders with the tools of their trade.

The Director's Order

Fish and Wildlife Service Ivory Ban Q & A, including section on Musicians and Musical Instrument Manufacturers

FAQ on the Executive Order to Strengthen Enforcement of the Endangered Species Act

Further Background from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Urgent Artist Visa Update!

February 19, 2014

Visa-related guest artist cancellations can have a huge reputational and financial impact on nonprofit arts organizations, damage international cultural relations, and deprive audiences of extraordinary performances. If your orchestra engages international artists, please take note of the following urgent information about the U.S. visa process!

The League has received reports of a recent wave of unexpected processing delays, requests for additional evidence, and even denials for O and P artist visas. While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website continues to list an average timeframe of 14 days for regular processing, the system is actually taking significantly longer for many petitioners. Do not rely on the projected processing times listed on the USCIS website! File your petitions as early as possible, and take these steps:

  1. Consult artistsfromabroad.org for essential tips on preparing a visa petition.
  2. Contact the League for assistance in navigating the visa process. We are here to help members orchestras with their questions and can walk you through the many layers of the petition process.
  3. Complain to us. Really. Please tell us where you are encountering problems with the U.S. visa system. The League is working in collaboration with the broader performing arts community to seek policy changes that improve the artist visa process. If your orchestra encounters a problem after submitting a petition in a timely and complete manner, we would like to bring your story forward as an illustration of the policy improvements needed.

While processing times for artist visas improved significantly following a promise by USCIS in 2010, the timeframe is still highly unpredictable, and the process for determining whether artist visa petitions meet the standard for approval is inconsistent.

Advance planning can mean the difference between the show going on – or getting cancelled. Again, plan to file your petitions as early as possible in order to absorb any unexpected delays in processing or to respond to a USCIS request for additional evidence, and be sure to give your petition a close look for errors or omissions before filing!

Washington in a Deep Freeze, While Policy Matters Heat Up

February 12, 2014

NEA Chair Nominated

President Obama has nominated Dr. Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, to serve as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. The nomination now moves to the Senate for confirmation. In a statement, the President said of Chu, "She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture." In addition to experience in arts management and philanthropy, Dr. Chu holds degrees in visual arts, piano performance, and music education.


Congress Speaks Up for Travel with Instruments

As of this Friday, two years will have passed since a groundbreaking provision was signed into law that would protect musical instruments transported in-cabin; however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has failed to implement the new policies. The music community – including a close advocacy partnership among the League of American Orchestras, the American Federation of Musicians, and The Recording Academy – has consistently called on the FAA to complete the rule-making process that it has yet to even begin. Now, Congress is stepping in to tell the FAA to take action. Responding to ongoing evidence that musicians’ tools of their trade are often in extreme jeopardy when traveling by air, 35 members of Congress signed onto a letter this week to the Secretary of Transportation, urging immediate action. We are grateful to Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chairs Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), as well as Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), for their extraordinary leadership on this effort. Thanks to the many orchestra advocates who responded to the League’s request to weigh in with the Hill. We will keep you posted as future action takes place.


 Unified Call for the Return of the IRA Rollover

The IRA Charitable Rollover has proven to generate substantial new and increased gifts to orchestras and other nonprofits during its short and spotty lifespan. This opportunity for donors aged 70 ½ and older to give tax-free contributions of up to $100,000 expired at the end of 2013. Since its original enactment in 2006, the provision has expired and been reinstated multiple times, leaving donors incapable of making the most of this valuable charitable giving incentive. The IRA Rollover may be retroactively reinstated, along with other expired tax provisions, at some point later this year. In addition to advocating for this short-term fix, the League has joined an effort, coordinated by Independent Sector, inviting nonprofit organizations to ask Congress to put an end to the on-again-off-again nature of the IRA Rollover by making the provision permanent. If you would like to add your orchestra's name to this effort, act before February 24!


Clear Support for Charitable Giving Incentives

Thousands of nonprofit leaders and program participants continue to make the compelling case that charitable giving incentives are a lifeline to communities and worthy of protection, amidst ongoing talks of tax reform and budget challenges. Incoming Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of 32 Senators signed a letter to the Finance Committee last month, urging policy leaders to preserve the “full scope and value” of the charitable deduction. More than a dozen potential changes to the charitable tax deduction have been “on the table” throughout the last few years of fierce negotiations over the debt limit, fiscal cliff, and comprehensive tax reform. While talks on the thorny topic of comprehensive tax reform are slow-moving in advance of the upcoming election cycle, vigilance is the order of the day as policy leaders continue to discuss shorter-term options for raising federal revenue. The League and entire nonprofit community will be watching as the President’s budget is released in early March to see if the Administration once again proposes a 28% cap on the rate of deductibility of charitable contributions. 


Federal Funding Intact for NEA, Arts Ed

Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Arts in Education program at the U.S.Department of Education survived the roller coaster ride that was the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process, navigating drastic proposals to slash and eliminate funding, the government shutdown, and final budget negotiations to ultimately be restored to their pre-sequester funding levels. Last year, 100 orchestras across the country served their communities with support from direct NEA grants, in addition to NEA funding awarded through state arts agencies. The Arts in Education program – the only dedicated form of support for arts learning at the U.S. Department of Education – will continue the important work of funding model learning programs and professional development for arts educators, with new application opportunities to be announced soon. Your ongoing advocacy will be key in the coming year as Congress considers FY15 funding levels.

Friendlier Skies Needed! Have Your Members of Congress Signed the Letter?

February 7, 2014

It has been nearly two years since a groundbreaking provision to support musicians was signed into law, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has failed to implement the new policies to improve air travel with musical instruments in-cabin. The music community - including a close advocacy partnership between the League of American Orchestras and the American Federation of Musicians - has consistently called on the FAA to complete the rule-making process that it has yet to even begin. Now, Congress is stepping in to tell the FAA to take action immediately.

Contact your Senators and Representative right away and ask them to add their names to the bipartisan, bicameral letter from the Hill to the FAA.  Please act fast! The letter closes for signatures at noon Eastern on Tuesday, February 11. We’ve set up an online communication that will take just moments for you to personalize and send.

Click here to contact your Members of Congress TODAY

The list of those that have already signed on is below and growing.  We are grateful to Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chairs Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), for their extraordinary leadership on this effort. Ask Congress to send a clear message to the FAA – it’s time to protect musical instruments from harm in-flight.

Thank you!

Signatures to the Letter as of February 6, 2014:

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA)

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)

Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME)

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN)

Rep. William “Lacy” Clay (D-MO)

Rep. Billy Long (R-MO)

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE)

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY)

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC)

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX)

Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX)

Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)

Rep. Donna M. Christensen (D-Virgin Islands)

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)

Arts Education for America’s Students: A Shared Endeavor

January 8, 2014

The League, in partnership with 12 national arts and education organizations, has released Arts Education for America’s Students, A Shared Endeavor, a statement outlining the importance of high quality arts education and those responsible for providing it to students. A Shared Endeavor articulates the purpose and value of art education in the balanced curriculum of all students, asserts its place as a core academic subject area, and details how sequential arts learning can be supported by rigorous national standards and assessments. The statement, created over a 12-month period by the endorsing organizations, calls on organizations and individuals to actively support and promote:   

  • Policies and resources for arts education.
  • Access to arts education for all students.
  • Collaboration between school-based arts educators, other subject area teachers, community-based artists, and arts educators.
  • Long-term advocacy partnership between all providers of arts education.  

We encourage you to read this document and its companion diagram that places students at the center of arts education and consider it a tool to help prompt dialogue and engagement with community arts education leaders in a conversation about how students in your community access arts education, beginning with these questions:

  • Do students have access to arts education in your community’s schools?
  • How do community-based arts educators, including your orchestra, connect with learning taking place in your community’s schools?
  • How do teachers connect the learning in their classrooms to learning in the arts? How can you support them in that endeavor?
  • Where do you have strong supports for arts education at your school? What does your state require your schools to do?

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