This week, I’d like to focus your attention on important developments on Capitol Hill affecting the arts. We need your help, and I hope you’ll take action and spread the word. Last week, you may have received an action alert from the Performing Arts Alliance: a nearly 50% cut to the NEA’s funding has been proposed by the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. This cut is not only disproportionate when compared with the cuts proposed for other agencies, but if enacted, could significantly impact the capacity of theatres to serve their communities. Contact your representatives in Congress now to take action! Remember that even if your theatre is not receiving direct funding from the NEA, it also funds state arts agencies and has historically helped in stimulating private giving.
Funding cuts to the NEA are just one challenge facing the arts. Last month, the Senate Finance Committee announced a plan to strip the tax code of all deductions, including the charitable deduction. Senators have until the end of July to add back provisions, so take action now to preserve this essential vehicle of support for the not-for-profit community.
On the arts education front, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5: The Student Success Act, which could have a huge impact on the future of arts education. A separate Bill that had been introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) included the following pro-arts education mandates:
- Clarify that Title I funds for disadvantaged students could be used for arts education;
- Ensure that the arts could be used as a turnaround strategy for struggling schools;
- Add Art to turn STEM into STEAM;
- And include arts education grants in a Well Rounded Curriculum fund at the U.S. Department of Education.
This Bill did not pass, and none of these provisions were included in The Students Success Act, making it ever more important for us to remind elected officials that arts education is not just an intrinsic good, but a powerful tool to improve academic achievement and student self-expression. Please write to your Member of Congress and urge him/her to strengthen arts education in a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act and to support arts education funding.
Lastly, TCG has been at the forefront in advocating for interference protection for wireless microphones. Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1-IL) will today introduce the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013. This legislation seeks to balance the competing interests of large electronic manufacturers and wireless carriers with the need to protect the 30-plus year use of the television band by theatres, sports, religious organizations and more. Yesterday, Congressman Rush’s office hosted a Hill Briefing featuring Harvey Fierstein, our own Laurie Baskin, and speakers from these other sectors to raise awareness on Capitol Hill about the importance of wireless microphones. Stay tuned for an Action Alert on the Bill when we are ready to seek additional Congressional Co-sponsors!