Congress was unable to find an alternative to the across the board spending cuts, known as sequestration, which took effect March 2, 2014. Sequestration became law with the Budget Control Act of 2011 and was supposed to encourage member of Congress to reach a consensus about dealing with the deficit. At the New Year, Congress postponed the spending cuts for two months, yet were unable to find an alternative solution at that time.
The 5% cuts may have an impact on your organization:
House Hearing on Tax and the Charitable Deduction
On February 14, 2013, The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee hosted a hearing on Tax and the Charitable Deduction. As lawmakers look to increase revenue, incentives for charitable giving continue to be part of the conversation. Questions asked by lawmakers demnostrated that the nonprofit community should remain concerned over potential proposals to limit the deduction. Dance/USA submitted written testimony on February 28 that highlighted the impact member companies have on communities.
Other links that provide additional context for this issues: Alexander Reid (Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP) submitted testimony that beautifully demonstrates why the history of the charitable deduction is relevant to current policymaking; Nonprofit Quarterly provided an overview of the February 14 hearing with an analysis of the advocacy efforts to preserve charitable giving incentives.
NEA Partners with U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
For the first time, the American creative sector will be measured on a macroeconomic level by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), a federal agency of record on the U.S. economy and a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The partnership will develop an "Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account" (ACPSAP). This new account will identify and calculate the arts and culture sector's contributions to the Gross Domestic Product, a measure representing the final dollar value of all goods and services rendered in the U.S. BEA and NEA will release preliminary estimates on relevant creative and cultural industries in 2013 and final estimates in 2014. For more information, visit the NEA online.
American Music Abroad Now Accepting Applications
The State Department, in partnership with the Association of American Voices, is now accepting applications for American Music Abroad, a program designed to communicate America's rich musical contributions to the global music scene as it fosters cross-cultural communication and people-to-people connection to global audiences. The deadline to apply is January 18, 2013.
NEA Announces Our Town Grants
The National Endowment for the Arts announced that the guidelines and application materials for Our Town, the creative placemaking grants program, are now available online. Pending availability of funding, grants will range from $25,000 to $200,000. The NEA will host webinars on November 6 and 13, 2012 at arts.gov. The application deadline is January 14, 2013.
P-1 Visa Update
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a long-awaited memo confirming P-1B classification for individual foreign artists performing as a member of a U.S.-based performing group (as opposed to only individuals with foreign groups). This will benefit the dance community greatly as companies can bring in foreign artists in who have excellent ability but may not be qualified for O-1 status. To learn more about the P-1B visa, visit Artists From Abroad.
Central Withholding Agreement Update
Effective Monday, October 1, 2012, all request for Central Withholding Agreements (CWAs) must be sent to the following address/fax number:
Central Withholding Agreement Program
Mail Stop: 1441
2001 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515-1050
Fax: (603) 493-5906
Effective January 1, 2013, CWA requests received less than 45 days prior to the first event that would be covered by the CWA will not be processed and those events will be subject to withholding at 30% gross income.
The IRS also posted a Q&A about CWAs.
House of Representatives FY13 Budget Resolution
Last week, the House of Representatives adopted the FY13 Budget Resolution Blueprint. The proposal cuts spending more than the President’s budget proposal and also proposes eliminating many deductions and credits, though does not specify which ones. Included along with many of the budget cuts, the budget resolution calls for eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, suggesting that they would be better supported with private funds; the proposal also suggests that funding from the NEA goes to support arts programs enjoyed primarily by wealthy individuals.The Performing Arts Alliance (Dance/USA is a founding member) sent out an update last week on this issue. Please note that this budget resolution is nonbinding. Spending is still ultimately determined by the Appropriations Committee and this resolution is likely going to be killed in the Senate. For additional information on the budget, including comparisons to current spending and the President’s budget, please visit Independent Sector.
New U.S. Department of Education Arts Education Research
On Monday, the U.S Department of Education released the Fast Response Survey System report on Arts Education. The majority of the data highlights instruction in music and visual arts (as many states do not yet have databases that support dance and theater data collection). Some highlights include
NEA Webinar on Our Town Community Indicators
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will host a public webinar on Thursday, April 12, from 3:00-4:00p.m. EST, to describe the goals and research methods of the Our Town Community Indicators Study. This study leverages the NEA’s involvement in Our Town projects to advance public understanding of how creative placemaking strategies can strengthen communities. The NEA’s Office of Research & Analysis, which is directing the project, will report on the study’s progress to date, and will solicit ideas about next steps. The webinar is thus an opportunity to make suggestions on how best to achieve the study’s intended outcome – a national indicators system that can become a valuable tool for defining, measuring, and conveying the dimensions of livability most relevant to creative placemaking.
NEA Research on Arts Education for At-Risk Youth
Last week, the NEA released an updated study, led by James Catterall, called The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth. The study uses four separate longitudinal studies to track children, teenagers, and young adults who had high or low levels or arts engagement in or out of school. In addition to supporting the cases for academic success and career goals, the report also finds that young adults with intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to be civically engaged, including high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement in local and school politics.
Arts Advocacy Day 2012
Once again, Dance/USA is serving as a National Co-Sponsor for Arts Advocacy Day 2012, April 16 and 17. And once again, we're offering registration reimbursements to a limited number of members. Each year, Arts Advocacy Day convenes more than 500 advocates from across the U.S. who visit the Capitol and talk to their Congressional leaders about NEA appropriations, charitable giving incentives, and other issues that impact the arts field. Alec Baldwin will offer the Nancy Hanks lecture and Ben Folds will be performing. For more information about how to take advantage of this subsidy, contact the government affairs office.
President's FY13 Budget Proposal
On Monday, February 13, President Obama released his FY13 Federal Budget Proposal to Congress. The President's budget proposal includes funding the National Endowment for the Arts at $154.255 million, an increase of almost $8 million dollars over the current funding level and almost level with the FY11 budget. However the President continues to propose eliminating the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education and including the arts in the broader fund Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education. Once again, the President has also proposed capping the charitable deduction at 28%. For additional information on the budget:
NEA Webinar on Arts and Human Development
On Wednesday, February 29 (2:00-3:00 pm, EST), the National Endowment for the Arts will host a live webinar with the new Federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. Featuring the Gamelan Project and collaboration between and ethnomusicologist/composer and neuroscientists that explore cognitive development. The webinar is open to the public and no registration is required. To join the webinar, go to http://artsgov.adobeconnect.com/artsdev1/ and check the "Enter as Guest" radio button. Type in your name and click hit "Enter Room" to join.
NEA National Medal of Arts Nominations Open
On Monday, February 13, President Obama awarded the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. Already, the National Endowment for the Arts is accepting nominations for the 2012 Medal of Arts recipients. To view recent honorees, see photos of the 2011 ceremony, download the transcript, or learn how to nominate for 2012, visit the NEA’s website.
IRA Charitable Rollover Action Alert
On Thursday, February 2, the Performing Arts Alliance sent out an action alert about reinstating the IRA Charitable Rollover, which expired on December 31, 2011. This tax incentive, which allows individuals 70 ½ or older to rollover money from their Individual Retirement Accounts to nonprofit organizations, has proved to be a wonderful source of new revenue for many organizations. Already this year, Dance/USA has joined others from the nonprofit sector (including Independent Sector, United Way Worldwide, American Red Cross, YMCA of America, and others) in visiting Congressional offices, urging them to reinstate this incentive. On Tuesday, January 31, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on all tax extenders to determine what path to take. The witnesses’ viewpoints ran the range of reinstating all extenders to letting them all remain expired. To voice your opinion, visit the Performing Arts Alliance and urge your legislators to reinstate this important tax incentive.
Arts Education Standards & Assessment
The NEA released a report, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts – State of the Field and Recommendations, in advance of a webcast held on February 14. Topics covered included: How the arts can drive innovation, arts learning standards, and the current state of – and innovative practices in – arts assessment. No registration is necessary. The webcast was recorded and will be available for viewing on February 21.
9/11 Community Service Grants
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently announced that they would be offering grants for the 2012 September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. The grants, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, are made eligible to organizations engaged in service activities that meet vital community needs and honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in on September 11, 2001, or who rose in service as a result of that tragedy. Successful applicants will have the ability to increase participation in service to community. The application deadline is Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
New IRS Search Tool
The International Revenue Service launched a new search tool to find an exempt organization and check information about its federal tax status and filings, called the Exempt Organizations Select Check. Previously, potential donors and funders had to search through multiple databases to find this information.
IRA Charitable Rollover to Expire Soon
On December 31, 2011, the IRA Charitable Rollover will expire. This tax incentive allows those who are 70 ½ or older to transfer up to $100,000 of tax-free gifts directly from their IRAs. This is a great reminder to include in end-of-year campaigns to your donors. While both the House and Senate have introduced legislation to make the IRA rollover permanent, Congressional work on this incentive has been pushed aside to focus on appropriations and deficit reduction. Dance/USA will continue to monitor this issue and encourages members to contact their legislators and urge them to reinstate the rollover. Find your legislators at the Performing Arts Alliance.
Applications Open for New Cultural Exchange Program
The Association of American Voices, in partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has opened up the applications for the American Music Abroad program. The program will facilitate cultural exchange via musical performance and educational outreach. The ensembles selected will conduct regional cultural exchange tours in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and the Middle East for approximately one month. The application deadline is January 16, 2012.
The NEA Heads New Task Force on Arts and Human Development
The National Endowment for the Arts is leading a new task force of 13 federal agencies and departments to encourage more and better research on how the arts help people reach their full potential at all stages of life. "Human Development" is a framework that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners use to devise research and programs that help people lead full lives from early childhood through old age. The taskforce published a white paper, “The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning, and Individual Well-Being (PDF).”
The NEA Prepares for Future Potential Cuts
The National Endowment for the Arts is responding to recent cuts to the agency as well as anticipated future cuts by preparing to offer smaller and fewer grants. For the recently announced first round of FY12 grants, the NEA offered dance grants to only 52% of the applicants, as opposed to 67% last year. It continues to be crucial for the arts community to contact our congressional leaders through phone calls, letters, and through the Performing Arts Alliance action alerts. The NEA website recently published a list of the Round One Art Works Grants and just this week announced the Challenge America Fast-Track grantees.
NEA Ceases Consortium Grants in FY13
Due to budgetary constraints, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will not be awarding consortium grants beginning with the FY13 application process. This means that applicants planning grant submissions to the NEA for FY13 should prepare with the understanding that they can make one and only one application from the NEA: either in the Art Works or Challenge America categories. Previously, organizations could apply up to two times – once on their own, and a second time in partnership with other organizations. The FY13 grant guidelines will be available in January 2013. Another change that will appear in the guidelines will be the incorporation of the Arts in Media into the Art Works category for Media Arts. The types of projects supported in the past in both categories will continue to be offered under Art Works. Media applications will also be subject to the one-application-per-year rule that applies to all applicants.
The sole exception to the one-application limit will be for parent organizations that have separately identifiable and independent components and are submitting a second application in connection with that component organization. Guidance on FY13 grants should be available in January, but to learn more about the current FY12 independent component policy for parent (and related) organizations, please visit the NEA’s website.
As soon as the FY13 grant guidelines become available, Dance/USA will keep you apprised.
Senate to Address Net Neutrality November 8
President Nominates New State Department PositionOn November 4, President Obama nominated Tara D. Sonenshine to be the new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Ms. Sonenshine would oversee the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which funds cultural diplomacy initiatives around the world.
MLK Day WebinarsIs your dance company participating in service projects in your community to address issues such as education or economic recovery? Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a great way to highlight how arts groups are making communities healthier. The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that coordinates MLK Day, is hosting a series of free webinars, with the first one starting tomorrow, November 9, from 3-4 pm. Topics include Recruiting Volunteers, Project Planning, Communications, and more.
Charitable Deduction Sign On Letter
The National Council of Nonprofits has drafted a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging them to preserve the charitable giving incentives so as not to impede nonprofits’ abilities to continue to serve communities. Dance/USA has signed on. Please take a minute to add your organization to the list and include a message about how your organization relies on private contributions. There are currently multiple alternatives being discussed in lieu of the current charitable deduction, including lowering the cap to 28% (currently 35%) for higher income earners and replacing the deduction with an credit. Many nonprofits across the U.S. are urging Congress not to do anything to hurt nonprofits at a time when many are already struggling.
The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up their version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill in October (also known as No Child Left Behind). The arts retained its status as a core academic subject (meaning that it would continue to be eligible for federal funding from the Department of Education). Additionally, the Senate expanded the usage of core academic subjects to include extended learning programs, parental engagement programs, and more. $500 million was included in the Well Rounded Education Amendment, of which the arts are included in a list of subject areas. The bill also directs the Department to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in the arts. Americans for the Arts posted an overview of amendments on their blog.
New NEA Research
The National Endowment for the Arts released a new study on September 28 that offers industry-specific, regional, and demographic data on 2.1 million artists working in the U.S. Of the artists surveyed, 24,713 (1.3%) were dancers and choreographers and 41% of all dancers and choreographers are non-white and/or Hispanic, nine points higher than the corresponding share of the U.S. workforce. Already, the media is spinning the story to show that artists are making a decent living without qualifying this with the fact that 54% of those surveyed were in the for-profit world (including graphic designers and architects) and that 34% were self-employed (which means they must cover their own insurance costs).
Office of Copyright Priorities
On October 25, the U.S. Copyright Office, located in the Library of Congress, announced the office’s priorities for the next two years. They will continue to spend time examining the current complexities of the copyright system and focus on issues such as rogue websites, illegal streaming, small claims, orphan works, and library preservation.
Arts in Education
In a September markup of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education FY12 Appropriations, the Senate committee recommended funding the Arts in Education program at approximately the same level of funding ($27.5 million) currently administered by the U.S. Department of Education in FY11. The bill does not support the President’s Fund for a Well Rounded Education which consolidates AIE, along with other education programs, into a broader funding package.
However recently, a House appropriations draft bill zeroes out funding for AIE along with other programs. Just last spring, the House Subcommittee on Education and the Workforce passed an ESEA reauthorization bill to eliminate AIE and 42 other programs, calling them unnecessary and duplicative.
Charitable Giving Incentives
In an effort to increase revenue, the President once again proposed capping the deduction at 28% (down from 35%) for high income earners in the American Jobs Act. The nonprofit arts community, as well as the entire nonprofit sector, relies on private contributions and a reduction in giving at a time when giving is low already could be devastating. On October 6, Dance/USA joined other nonprofit leaders in visiting the offices of members of the Senate Finance Committee, urging them to preserve the charitable deduction.
On October 17 the Senate Finance Committee hosted a hearing on the charitable deduction. The arts became a major part of the conversation. Several individuals offering testimony, including United Way Worldwide’s President and CEO, stood in strong support of the arts and rejected all ideas of government parsing out types of donors based on where they give, describing that as a “slippery slope.” Click here to read the opening statements and testimonies.
Super Committee for Deficit Reduction Announced
The 12 member “Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction,” created by legislation in the Budget Control Act of 2011, was announced in August. This “Super Committee,” co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), is responsible for recommending deficit savings between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion. Congress will be required to vote on a balanced budget between October 1 and the end of the year. It is not yet clear what the Super Committee will cut. Dance/USA will closely monitor budget discussion and will provide updates.
NEA and Kansas
The National Endowment for the Arts affirmed recently that, with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s recent veto of state aid to the Kansas Arts Commission, Kansas is no longer eligible for federal arts funding. It is estimated that the elimination of NEA funding, and very likely funding from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, will result in a loss of $1.2 million, money that would have gone towards arts programs in communities throughout the state.
Advocacy and Arts Education
Narric Rome, Senior Director for Federal Affairs and Arts Education at Americans for the Arts, responds to question on the efficacy of arts education advocacy. He states that the real success and the real challenge (even more than receiving funding) was getting Arts Education listed as a core academic subject in No Child Left Behind and making sure it keeps its status when NCLB is reauthorized.
Dance/USA joined a list of 126 influential nonprofit leaders, including all the members of the Performing Arts Alliance, in adding its name to an open letter from Independent Sector urging the President and Congressional leaders to preserve the charitable deduction. The letter was delivered to the elected officials on Friday and published in Politico on Monday, July 18. You can learn more about the discussion around charitable giving incentives at the Independent Sector site, which includes talking points and advocacy resources.
The IRS has changed the requirements needed to obtain a Central Withholding Agreement (that reduces or eliminates the 30% tax withholding for non-resident artists) in order to close loopholes. New requirements include: a requirement that all individual performers be listed on a CWA request; increased details in budgets; and rules about per diems. For more information about the increased requirements, visit the FTM Arts Law Blog.
On July 12, the House Interior Appropriation Committee passed a bill to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts by $20 million in FY12, funding it at $135 million. This results in significant decreases in funding for state arts agencies and direct grants. To contact your elected officials about NEA appropriations, please visit the Performing Arts Alliance.
IRS Releases Tax-Exemption Revocation List
The Internal Revenue Service(IRS) has released a list of approximately 275,000 not-for-profit organizations whose tax-exempt status has been revoked for failing to file Form 990 for three consecutive years. A majority of these organizations are believed to now be defunct and the IRS is offering guidance for those wishing to apply for reinstatement. Review the list to be sure that your organization still maintains its tax-exempt status. If an organization is on the list by mistake, the IRS is committed to reinstating 501(c)3 status in a timely manner.
Tax Treatment for Charitable Giving
On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office released a report highlighting 11 options for changes in the tax treatment of charitable giving and forecasts how that would impact both the nonprofit sector and the federal government. The report explores expanding incentives to non-itemizers, adding a giving minimum to qualify for incentives, and switching from a deduction to a credit. The options are being explored as the federal government is seeking opportunities to increase the revenue stream, and decreasing tax subsidies is one way of accomplishing this.
Why is this important to nonprofits? Performing arts organizations, even those that generate revenue from ticket sales, rely on private contributions for the majority of their funding. Adopting a plan that de-incentives giving to nonprofits could drastically affect the level of programming and service offered to communities at a time when organizations are already struggling. And at a time when federal funding is decreasing, arts organizations could be hit from several angles.
The report has interesting conclusions, making the case that a 25% credit, extended to all filers, with a minimum giving floor of $500/person, could increase overall giving, even while decreasing giving by those in the highest tax bracket. However a 15% tax credit would decrease overall giving. This is the first report that demonstrates the potential impact a tax credit could have on nonprofits.
What’s the difference between a deduction versus a credit? A deduction is a percentage taken off of taxable income, based upon a donor’s tax bracket. (A donor in the 35% tax bracket deducts 35 cents off of every dollar donated.) A credit is a dollar for dollar decrease in taxes owed, applied across all income levels and tax brackets. (A 25% tax credit would offers a 25% subsidy to someone making $35K/year and someone making $500K/year.)
What is your take on this issue? Knowing your community and donors,how will changes in the tax treatment of charitable giving impact your organization?
Dance/USA will continue to track this issue and work with national arts partners to advocate for the best solutions for our members.
Arts in Education
On May 13, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA52) proposed the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill (HR 1891) that called for eliminating 43 programs at the Department of Education, including the Arts in Education program. It is expected that the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will vote on this legislation in the morning of Wednesday, May 25. Please take a minute to see if you live or work in the district of one of the committee members and respond to the PAA's action alert in order to protect the AIE program. (Update: On Wednesday, May 25, the House Committee o Education and the Workforce passed this resolution. Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and David Wu (D-OR) sponsored an amendment that would give the Secretary of Education the ability to address narrowing of the curriculum by funding and prioritizing arts education, foreign language and history programs to ensure a "well-rounded education." The amendment failed. It is unclear when this bill will be scheduled for a final passage on the House floor.)
Value of Nonprofits
As part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness about the value of charitable organizations, and in light of ongoing budget and tax reform discussions that include proposals to cap the deductibility of charitable giving at 28% (rather than 35%), Independent Sector has published state profiles detailing the impact of nonprofits within each state. Download the PDF for your state and help make the case for how arts and cultural organizations and the greater nonprofit sector contribute to your community.
Arts Education Reports
Multiple reports on Arts in Education were released recently that provided research and talking points for arts education advocates
Final CR Funds NEA and AIE for FY11
On Thursday, April 14, both Houses of Congress approved the final CR that will fund the U.S. government through the end of the fiscal year in September.
Included in the Affordable Care Act enacted in March, the small business health care tax credit is designed to encourage both small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations to offer health insurance coverage to their employees for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. The new guidance addresses small business questions about which firms qualify for the credit by clarifying that a broad range of employers meet the eligibility requirements, including religious institutions that provide coverage through denominational organizations, small employers that cover their workers through insured multiemployer health and welfare plans, and employers that subsidize their employees’ health care costs through a broad range of contribution arrangements.
When the fee increase was proposed earlier this summer, Dance/USA, in coalition with the Performing Arts Alliance, filed comments with USCIS urging the agency to make much needed improvements to the regular petition process and objecting to the significant increase in the already unaffordable Premium Processing fee. In their September 24 notice regarding the final fees, USCIS reiterated its recent commitment to speed up and improve the quality of regular O and P artist visa processing with the intent that fewer petitioners would need to resort to the Premium Processing Service.
While USCIS has once again confirmed its intent to process regularly-filed petitions within 14 days, please continue to file arts-related petitions as far in advance of a performance as possible and closely monitor the level of service you receive:
Dance/USA will be closely monitoring trends in processing times and the information you provide will help ensure that USCIS fulfills its promise to improve the efficiency and quality of the artist visa process.
Dance/USA, in coalition with the Performing Arts Alliance, will continue to update you on developments surrounding this White Space ruling and any impact to the dance community. For more information, click here for the FCC press release and here for the FCC opinion and order.
Federal Appropriations Update: Continuing Resolution