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June 13-15, 2018

73rd National Conference — Chicago, IL

Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel
17 East Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603

Room Rates: $239/night + tax (currently 17.4%)
312 726 7500

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Latest Arts Policy Developments

February 17, 2017

  How to Stay A Step Ahead of Rapid Policy Changes  
  There is no shortage of recent policy developments in Washington, D.C. that intersect with the many ways orchestras serve their communities. Following is a summary of key actions that have taken place in just the past few weeks, and the ways the League and orchestras are getting engaged in the policy process. Here are some ways to act now that will position the arts well for the policy action that's ahead of us:
  • Home Meetings: Congress has just gone home for a week-long recess. See our calendar of opportunities for when to meet your members of Congress in their home districts and states, and invite them to see your orchestra's value to your community first-hand. 
  • Speak Up and Stay Tuned: The League has open online advocacy campaigns on all of the issues that matter to our members. A link to each of them is included below. We will notify you with action alerts that let you know of pivotal moments to make your voice heard. In the meantime, please use the key messages and background to inform your ongoing conversations with your elected officials. The most effective advocacy is personalized and happens long before a vote is taken.
  • Plan for Arts Advocacy Day: Our advocacy strategies are shaped in close partnership with the broader national arts and nonprofit communities. The League is once again serving as a national partner of National Arts Advocacy Day, which will take place this year on March 21, 2017. The League helps to craft the policy briefs on a wide range of issues, and our D.C. staff has a direct hand in training the hundreds of advocates that will visit their elected officials on Capitol Hill. We've penned a letter to Congress summarizing our key policy asks, and we'll be sending you an alert about how you can join in Arts Advocacy Day from home.
 

Bipartisan Senate Letter Calls for President Trump to Support NEA and NEH  
NEA FundingWhile a single, much-publicized news report in January suggested that the future of direct federal support for the arts is threatened with elimination under the new Administration, President Trump has not yet put forward a recommendation for funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He has placed two transition team members within the NEA, and the agency is currently funded at $148 million. Under the ongoing leadership of Chairman Jane Chu, the NEA continues to deliver direct grants, national research, and support to state arts agencies.
Both the NEA and NEH have consistently received bipartisan support from funding leaders in both the House and Senate in recent years. Proof of that support continued this week in a letter from 24 Senators to President Trump, requesting support for "these fundamental American institutions" as the President continues to shape the FY18 budget request he will submit to Congress in the coming weeks or months. Next steps are expected in the House, as the funding committee begins hearings on the Interior Appropriations bill on February 28.

 

  New Visa Enforcement Actions Anticipated  
 

Artists Visas: The League has partnered with 20 other national arts organizations ona joint statement that urges policy leaders to retain access to artist visas and support opportunities for worldwide cultural exchange as the Department of Homeland Security takes next steps in its review of national security measures. President Trump announced yesterday that a new executive order on immigration policy will be issued within days, following court action that suspended implementation of his prior executive order. The League provides up-to-the minute guidance for navigating all changes to the artist visa process on our dedicated website, www.artistsfromabroad.org, to help orchestras ensure that they can continue to engage international guest artists for performances.

 
     
  Nonprofits Unify to Support Giving Incentives in Tax Reform  
 

Charitable Giving: In the coming weeks and months Congress is crafting comprehensive tax reform proposals, and the Senate is likely to take action to see that a tax package can pass its chamber by a simplAlan Jordan, ED of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and fellow nonprofit delegates meet with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochestere majority vote before the end of the year. Any big-picture changes on tax rates and the size of the standard deduction could significantly impact the private contributions that support orchestras and the full array of nonprofit organizations that serve community needs. The League is an active member of the Charitable Giving Coalition and issued a call to action for orchestras to join nonprofit organizations nationwide this week to ask Congress to protect and expand incentives for giving.    
(Photographed: Alan Jordan, executive director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and fellow nonprofit delegates meet with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester)

 
     
  States Move Ahead to Implement New Education Law  
 
Arts EducationOn February 10, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a letter to all state education leaders encouraging continued progress on state plans for implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which are due to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education this spring and fall. ESSA was crafted with bipartisan support in 2015 and includes new provisions to support a well-rounded education while also handing more flexibility to the states for implementation. The League is asking Congress to fully fund the arts education and well-rounded provisions of the new law, while orchestras engage at the state and local level to call for more equitable access to a complete arts education as states shape their ESSA implementation plans.

NEA Edition: funding process, bipartisan Congressional support, and your voice

March 2, 2017

NEA funding process begins!

This week marked the first wave of action in Washington, D.C. on future funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Amidst the new Administration's proposal to deeply cut non-defense spending, leaders in Congress are already signaling that they will take a different path as they set FY18 funding levels. Read on for details and actions to take.

Pres. Trump releases topline budget; details still to come

On Monday, February 27, an initial outline of President Trump's FY18 budget was announced, with the promise to send Congress a more detailed budget on March 16, and a final full proposal in May. The President is proposing a $54 billion increase in defense spending, while recommending cutting that same amount from nondefense discretionary spending. While these topline budget numbers were announced, the plan did not specify a request related to NEA funding.
 
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID02), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee with a record of supporting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has voiced skepticism about such drastic cuts to nondefense spending.  Rep. Simpson was quoted by Congressional Quarterly as saying, "I don't think you could pass any of the bills... There's a lot of members that have a lot of interest in a lot of these programs. There's more to our government than just defense."
 
While the President's ultimate budget request will influence the debate on the Hill, the funding levels for each federal agency will ultimately be set by Congress before final spending bills are passed and handed back to the President for his signature.

House talks begin with bipartisan NEA support, on the record

Congressional action on FY18 funding levels for the NEA began on February 28 as the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee heard testimony from members of Congress regarding programs funded through the Interior Appropriations bill, which covers a broad territory, from sage grouse conservation to wildfire suppression. Given the wide variety of issues at hand, it is significant that 5 of the 19 members testifying -- including Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY25), who co-chairs the Congressional Arts Caucus, Rep. David Price (D-NC04), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY26), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX18), and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC12) -- spoke up in support of the NEA and NEH, praising both agencies' impact in communities across the country, and the NEA's Healing Arts program for wounded veterans.  Arts Caucus co-chair Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07) submitted a statement for the record in support of the NEA and NEH, saying, "Art is now, has been, and will always be a part of our Nation's fabric."
 
Rep. Price urged the subcommittee to consider the nationwide impact of the cultural agencies, to which Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA42) responded, "As you know, there's always been bipartisan support for the
se programs and I suspect that will be in the future, too." Under Chairman Calvert's leadership last year, the Interior Appropriations Committee approved a $2 million increase in funding for the NEA.
(Photographed: Ken Calvert, Chairman of House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee)

 


Your next steps

This is just the beginning of the funding process, and ongoing advocacy will be needed in a year when every vote will matter. Current bipartisan support on the Hill is the result of years of effort to help Congress understand the impact of NEA grants to orchestras and the full array of NEA support in states nationwide. As the funding committees in both the House and Senate take next steps throughout this spring, the League will keep you informed of key moments to raise your voice in coordination with the broader community of arts advocates. In the meantime, here's a reminder of the action steps that lay the groundwork for more action to come:
 

  • Home Meetings: See our calendar of opportunities for when to meet your members of Congress in their home districts and states, and invite them to see your orchestra's value to your community first-hand. 
  • Speak Up and Stay Tuned: The League has an open online campaign on NEA funding. We will notify you with action alerts that let you know of pivotal moments to make your voice heard. In the meantime, please use the key messages and background to inform your ongoing conversations with your elected officials. The most effective advocacy is personalized and happens long before a vote is taken.
  • Plan for Arts Advocacy Day: Our advocacy strategies are shaped in close partnership with the broader national arts and nonprofit communities. The League is once again serving as a national partner of National Arts Advocacy Day, which will take place this year on March 21, 2017. The League helps to craft the policy briefs on a wide range of issues, and our D.C. staff has a direct hand in training the hundreds of advocates that will visit their elected officials on Capitol Hill. We've penned a letter to Congress summarizing our key policy asks, and we'll be sending you an alert about how you can join in Arts Advocacy Day from home.

 

President's budget proposes eliminating NEA; join in the national response to current arts policy issues

March 16, 2017

President's budget outline proposes eliminating NEA, NEH, and CPB

Earlier this morning, President Trump released his budget outline for fiscal year 2018, including a call for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), along with deep cuts to afterschool funding and State Department cultural exchange programs -- all as part of a broader effort to decrease nondefense domestic discretionary spending by $54 billion.
 
In a public statement this morning, NEA Chair Jane Chu said, "We understand that the President's budget request is a first step in a very long budget process ... At this time, the NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress."

From creating educational collaborations with the Anchorage Public Schools, making new music that honors the sounds of the traditional Lakota drums in South Dakota, to preparing the next generation of professional musicians in Miami, orchestras across the country form partnerships that strengthen the fabric of their communities with the support of NEA funding.

Today's announcement is just the beginning of the many next steps of the federal budget process. As the League recently reported, leaders in Congress have voiced bipartisan support for the NEA, both in the past two years of funding proposals, and in public statements made in just the past two weeks. Action by Congress will determine the future funding levels for the NEA, and coordinated advocacy by stakeholders in communities across the country will make a difference in ensuring continued support 

Arts Advocacy Day is March 21

The League has partnered with the full array of national arts and artists organizations to advance federal policies that support our nation's creative capacity. One of many days to raise your voice in support of the arts is right around the corner. Tuesday, March 21: National Arts Advocacy Day is the most public, coordinated day of the year for arts advocates from all disciplines, all states, and every Congressional district to join together and speak up in support of the arts. 
 

Given today's budget news, the NEA will be a key focus of Tuesday's events. Here is one action you can take right now:
  • Contact your member of the U.S. House of Representatives to urge your Representative to sign onto the Congressional Arts Caucus letter in support of NEA fundingThis letter will be open, at minimum, through March 24. Congressional offices can contact the leaders of the letter to sign on: Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ). Also, ask your Senators to sign onto this letter in support of NEA funding by contacting Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

 Partner with others and keep advocating, all year on issues

Action is underway on a wide array of policy issues that affect the arts, including supporting the NEA and its capacity to provide public access to great art, strengthening arts in education in our nation's schools, protecting the value of charitable giving incentives, and improving the visa policy for engaging foreign guest artists. We have prepared background and talking points on all these issues. Make a point of reaching out to other arts groups in your area and  partner up to carry out these actions together. There are a number of ways you can make contact:  

  • Make plans for an in-person visit. Check out our 2017 Calendar of Advocacy Opportunities to engage your policymakers when they are back at home. This relationship building can ensure your officials know your orchestra's value in the community.
  • Pick up the phone to call the district office. 
  • Personalize a message through one of the League's easy-to-use email campaigns to Congress.
  • Post on your elected officials' social media pages. To find the social media and district office information, simply enter your zip code here, and select your official.
Congressional staffers have told us that when a group of constituents weigh in at the same time on a particular topic, the elected official takes notice. Be sure to explain how national policies impact your local community, and encourage your friends to do the same.

Talk to us


We value hearing about the conversations you have with elected officials and their staff. With this information, the League can better represent you when we visit those same officials here in D.C. Whether you have already had an interaction, would like some help preparing for an upcoming one, or you have a connection to a policymaker that could be useful when the time is right, we welcome hearing from you, so please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at any time. Thank you for making music and making a difference.

Orchestras and Congress speak up for arts policy

March 31, 2017

SHIFT festival brings orchestras to nation's capital

The long-anticipated SHIFT festival of American orchestras is taking place this week in Washington, D.C., celebrating the vitality, identity, and extraordinary artistry of orchestras and chamber orchestras. Washington Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts are hosting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Boulder Philharmonic, The Knights, and the North Carolina Symphony in an immersive festival experience including full-orchestra performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and community events throughout the city. The festival also included a symposium that featured League President and CEO Jesse Rosen at the Library of Congress.

The participating orchestras have been warmly welcomed by members of Congress throughout the week, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. David Price (D-NC), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Several musicians have also been meeting -- and sometimes performing for -- their members of Congress, sharing their experiences as musicians, and describing the importance of the policies that their elected officials contemplate in D.C.

Photographed: North Carolina Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn, Violinist Jacqueline Saed-Wolborsky, Violist Samuel Gold, Cellist Nathaniel Yaffe, and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Orchestras and Congress speak up for NEA funding

As Congress simultaneously takes up two years of spending decisions, orchestras are weighing in to urge ongoing support for the National Endowment for the Arts. The stop-gap agreement for current Fiscal Year 2017 government spending expires on April 28. While this week President Trump recommended total cuts of $18 billion in FY17 non-defense spending, including a proposed $15 million reduction for the NEA, leaders in Congress say the overall proposal comes too late in their ongoing budget talks. Final FY17 decisions are expected to be wrapped up after Congress returns from a recess in late April. Attention will then turn to FY18 spending levels. Today, 154 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a bipartisan Congressional letter to appropriators in support of FY18 NEA funding. Orchestra stakeholders continue to partner with other arts advocates to describe the impact of NEA grants in communities nationwide through direct communication to Congress and the following recent op-eds:
 

Tax talks heat up

On March 24, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) was quoted as saying, "We want to move forward this spring in the House and to be ready to deliver tax reform in 2017." Orchestras have joined the broader nonprofit sector in asking Congress to ensure that comprehensive tax reform will expand incentives for charitable giving and support nonprofit services to communities. On March 17, Ways and Means Committee Members Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and John Lewis (D-GA) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 34, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the charitable deduction that was enacted into the federal tax code in 1917. The resolution reinforces that "individual contributions benefit the arts, humanities, religious institutions, education, human services, the environment, health programs, and many other sectors" and that "philanthropy serves as a dynamic force to direct private resources toward addressing the difficult issues and evolving needs of society over a period of time, beyond a single act of good will." As Congress continues to work on the details of a tax reform proposal, check out our tips for how to take action.

Artist visa update: League leads policy statement and guidance

The League and a growing number of national arts organizations have signed an arts statement in response to the President's March immigration executive order. The statement urges policy leaders to retain access to artist visas and support opportunities for worldwide cultural exchange during ongoing consideration of new immigration policies. The White House has revoked its initial executive order that was announced in late January and issued a new executive order that would have the effect of imposing new limits on travel to the United States, beginning on March 16, for certain foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. As judicial action in response to the order continues, and as the Administration considers next steps, you can find up-to-date information on Artists from Abroad, a website that the League manages and which provides guidance for engaging foreign guest artists for performances in the U.S.

Arts education grants opportunity at U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education's Assistance for Arts Education Program is inviting applications for new FY17 awards for Professional Development for Arts Educators (PDAE). The deadline to submit a notice of intent to apply (recommended but not required) is April 27, 2017, with an official application deadline of May 30, 2017. The PDAE program is a highly competitive program that will support 20 to 25 new awards for professional development programs for kindergarten through grade 12 arts educators and other instructional staff for students in K-12 in which 50 percent or more of the students are from low-income families. For complete information, please view the PDAE grant guidelines online. Ultimate funding for grant awards is contingent on Congress finalizing as-yet-unfinished FY17 spending levels across the federal government. You can weigh in with Congress to ask for continued support for this program through the League's Arts Education Funding policy campaign.

 

 

Update! Tax Reform Proposals and Charitable Giving to Your Orchestra

April 28, 2017

Yesterday, the White House released an outline of tax reform proposals, while the U.S. House of Representatives rapidly crafts a detailed tax package of its own. Overarching changes to tax policy could dramatically alter the incentives for charitable giving that are a bedrock of support for orchestras and the broader nonprofit sector. While the initial impulse to make a donation comes from the heart, research shows that how much and when donors give is significantly impacted by tax policy. Orchestras, like many other charitable organizations, are able to serve communities by virtue of their tax-exempt status and the charitable giving incentives that drive private contributions. 
 

While further details are still to come, the Trump Administration's tax reform outline includes the following provisions:
  • Retains the charitable deduction. This is a very encouraging sign of support in light of prior proposals to place a specific dollar cap on the deduction of charitable gifts.
  • Doubles the standard deduction, which would simplify the tax process for many, but could reduce the share -- from 30% to 5% -- of taxpayers who are incentivized to give by claiming the charitable deduction.
  • Eliminates the federal estate tax, which has been a proven incentive for charitable giving.                                       
The League of American Orchestras and our members are actively engaged in speaking up on tax policy. Together with our partners in the Charitable Giving Coalition, the National Council of Nonprofits, and Independent Sector, we are urging Congress to ensure that, however these big moving parts of tax reform come together, tax policy will:
 
  • Preserve incentives for charitable giving by protecting the full scope and value of the charitable tax deduction.
  • Ensure that any comprehensive tax reform legislation encourages more giving by more Americans. In the context of a potential increase in the standard deduction, charitable giving could grow by giving all taxpayers the opportunity to deduct their charitable donations through a universal "non-itemizer" deduction.
On average, 40% of financial support for orchestras is derived from private contributions. These contributions support concert performances by thousands of musicians who contribute to the vitality of their communities, educational partnerships with other nonprofits and schools, and community-based programming that uses the power of music to transform lives.

Take Action
Next steps on tax reform proposals will continue throughout the coming months. We'll keep you posted as the House Ways and Means Committee unveils a detailed reform proposal, which might be released before summer begins. You 
can make a difference in this policy conversation now by letting your members of Congress know how your orchestra's service to its community could be affected if charitable giving declines, and how you could put charitable dollars to work if incentives for giving improve.
  • Meet with your elected officials when they return to their home districts and states. The League's Calendar of Opportunities can help you plan.
  • Speak up. Visit the League's Tax Policy Advocacy Center for a two-page backgrounder, talking points, and a sample message to personalize with information about your orchestra.

Increases for NEA, NEH, and arts education in FY17 catch-all funding bill!

May 1, 2017

Increases for NEA and NEH 
Significant gains for the arts are included in this week's action on the FY17 funding bill that was left unfinished from last year, providing a strong position for federal arts and culture funding as Congress shifts its attention to the FY18 budget debates that have already begun. Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would increase by $2 million each in a catch-all spending bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. Despite requests from the Trump Administration to reduce each cultural agency by $15 million in FY17, the bipartisan deal worked out by Congress preserves the increases that were passed in the House Interior bill last year, and demonstrates strong bipartisan support on the Hill for the cultural agencies.
 
New opportunities for arts education 
The U.S. Department of Education's Assistance for Arts Education program would receive level funding at $27 million, supporting a new grant competition that is currently open. New support would also be available through $400 million in funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, a new program created by the Every Student Succeeds Act that would support the arts and other subjects essential for a well-rounded education. Advocates will be seeking to grow that new fund substantially in FY18.
 
Next steps
This bill is scheduled for votes in the House and Senate later this week. Once funding for the current fiscal year is settled, Congress will swiftly turn its attention to FY18 funding priorities, and shape its response to the Trump Administration's proposal to eliminate funding for the NEA and NEH. 
 
Keep speaking up
Thank you! Your ongoing advocacy can help ensure that these very important gains made in the FY17 bill will continue into next year's funding process. Orchestras have been meeting with policy leaders and making their voices heard in partnership with the broader arts community. The League will keep you up to date on further developments so you can keep this momentum going and continue to weigh in to support federal funding for the arts and arts education.