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News & Action Alerts

Sequestration

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:

  • The National Endowment for the Arts will implement cuts to the grant programs for FY13. The NEA is currently funded through a continuing resoution at $146 million - level with FY12 funding. Arts advocates are once again asking Congress to reinstate funding to the NEA at $155 million for FY14. Advocacy to reinstate the NEA budget is important during this time of mandatory cuts.
  • The U.S. Department of State warned that sequestration may have an impact on the turnaround time for obtaining visas, particularly in consular processing times. If your organization works with foreign artists, it is important to plan ahead and submit your visa applications early. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not yet released a statement, however Dance/USA will distribute additional information as it's learned.
  • The U.S. Department of Education will also see spending cuts due to sequestration, which means potential cuts to the Arts in Education program. The program already saw a reduction in funding in recent years, dropping from $40 millin to $25 million.

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

  • 94% of elementary schools reported instruction designated specifically for music and 83% specifically for visual arts in 2009-10 school year;
  •  Only 3% and 4% of elementary schools reported instruction specifically designated for dance and drama/theater – a decrease from 20% for both compared to data from 1999/2000 school year;
  • In 2008-09 school year, 91% of secondary schools offered music, 89% offered visual arts, 12% offered dance, and 45% offered drama/theatre – these numbers changed very little when compared to the 1999/2000 school year;
  • However, there are clear equity gaps as the research shows that schools with increased percentage of student eligibility for free or reduced-priced meals also have the lowest percentage of music programs.

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

It is expected that the Senate will today review the House’s Resolution of Disapproval over the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules which are scheduled to go into effect on November 20. These rules, while not perfect, prevent discrimination against legal online content and promote transparency of broadband service operations.  Senator John Kerry (D-MA) sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter (PDF) last week urging Senators to vote “no” against this resolution. “The network neutrality rules govern not the Internet but rather the behavior of firms owning and operating gateways to the Internet,” Kerry wrote. Today, the White House also sent out a statement informing the Senate that the White House would veto this resolution.

President Nominates New State Department Position

On 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 Webinars

Is 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.

ESEA Reauthorization

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.

State Department's Cultural Crossroads

The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently launched Cultural Crossroads, an online community dedicated to the arts. This online group is geared toward providing best practices to artists interested in cultural diplomacy and as an opportunity for U.S. artists to connect with U.S. embassies abroad for possible partnerships. Anyone can create a profile and post information. The site is still young and needs content, so check back often! The Cultural Exchange Working Group is working on identifying frequent contributors eager to start conversations and post articles  on the site. If you’re interested, please let me know.

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 Signs On To Independent Sector Letter

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.

IRS Changes Requirements for Obtaining Central Withholding Agreement

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.

House Committee Passes Bill to Cut NEA by $20 million

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
. The reports include the Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable 2010 Final Report: The Role of the Arts in Educating America for Great Leadership and Economic Strength; a preliminary study from the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics on the status of arts education in elemenatary and secondary education; and most notably, the report from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities - Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools. The last report is particularly helpful as it aggregates important arts education research, resources, and case studies to better enable advocates to make their case.

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.

  • The National Endowment for the Arts received $155 million dollars. While the allocations represents a $12.5 million cut from the FY11 budget, the reduction in funds is not as drastic as a previously approved CR (that allocated $124.4 million to the NEA) or the President's current FY12 budget proposal (that allocates $146.3 million to the NEA);
  • The Arts in Education program at the Department of Education received $25.5 million. In early March, both the House and the Senate eliminated the entire $40 million AIE program. The reinstated funds will support current multi-year grants with $10 million left over of additional arts education expenditures.

Thank you for your hard work and adovcacy that saved Arts in Education programs and protected the NEA from deeper cuts.

Form 1099 Requirement Repealed (updated 4/15/11)
President Obama signed legislation to repeal expansion of Form 1099 reporting requirements on Thursday, April 14. On April 5, the Senate voted to repeal the new Form 1099 reporting requirements. The expansion of the 1099 reporting, which would have gone into effect in 2012, required businesses and nonprofits to fill out a Form 1099 for every for-profit paid at least $600 during the year. Already repealed by the House, this bill awaits President Obama's signature. (Note: Nonprofits must still comply with current 1099 reporting requirements.)

ECA Hosts Cultural Exchange Competition
On March 11, 2011, the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)announced an open competition for a cooperative agreement to administer the American Music Abroad program, consisting of approximately ten tours for a select number of professional American artists in a wide range of uniquely American musical genres. Open to the U.S. public and nonprofit organizations, ECA is particularly interested in proposals for the administration of tours by American musicians representing diverse American music genres to countries with significant under-served populations that may not otherwise have access to American art forms, and to countries with significant youth populations. More information can be found in the Federal Register Announcement (search for "American Music Abroad").

Health Care Tax Credit Update

The Internal Revenue Service has released final guidance for small employers eligible to claim the new small business health care tax credit for the 2010 tax year. The release includes a one-page form and instructions small employers will use to claim the credit for the 2010 tax year.  New Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and newly revised Form 990-T are now available on IRS.gov. The IRS also posted on its website the instructions to Form 8941 and Notice 2010-82 , both of which are designed to help small employers correctly figure and claim the credit.

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.

Changes to the NEA Grant Guidelines for FY 12

At the National Council for the Arts meeting on Friday, October 29th, the NEA shared some highlights of the new NEA grant guidelines for FY12.

If you've been applying to Access to Artistic Excellence, you now will apply to Art Works. The two application deadlines are at the same times as last year (March 10 and August 11, 2011).
  • You'll continue to go to the discipline that is most relevant to your project as your starting place.
  • All types of projects supported in the past continue to be eligible in Art Works.

If you've been applying to Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth, you now will apply to Art Works through the Arts Education discipline.
  • If you have a pre-K through 12 curriculum-based project that aligns with national or state arts education standards, your new starting place for funding will be with the Arts Education discipline.
  • You will need to make a schedule adjustment within the Arts Education discipline. You may apply to either the March 10 or August 11, 2011, application deadlines; there no longer is a June deadline. The March deadline will be for community-based projects with project start dates of January 1, 2012, or later. The August deadline will be for school-based projects with project start dates of June 1, 2012, or later.

If you will be applying for an official Consortium project in Art Works, you must apply for an innovative project. An official Consortium project is an exception to the one-application rule and represents a partnership of organizations that undertakes a shared project. In general, innovative projects are characterized as those that may prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change; are distinctive by offering fresh insights and new value for the field and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and may be shared and/or emulated, or lead to other innovations.

A note about Challenge America Fast-Track: This funding category will still be available with an application deadline of May 26, 2011. This year we're implementing a policy to limit consecutive-year funding. If you've received a Challenge America Fast-Track grant for the last three years, you are not eligible to apply to the Fast-Track category this year. You may apply to other NEA funding opportunities including Art Works.

Avoid Visa Processing Delays -- Submit Petitions with Correct Filing Fee
USCIS has increased the fees for visa petitions filed on or after November 23, 2010.
  • The fee for the regular I-129 petition for a nonimmigrant worker will increase from $320 to $325.
  • The fee for the I-907 premium processing form will increase from $1,000 to $1,225.
  • The fee for the I-539 petition to extend/change status (used for spouses and dependents) will decrease from $300 to $290.
  • The fee for the I-824 petition for action on an approved application or petition (usually used to request a duplicate I-797 notice of approval) will increase from $340 to $405.

Petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed on or after November 23, 2010 must include the new fee.  To avoid delays in processing, please note the fee change and plan accordingly.  USCIS will likely return any petitions that are filed with the new fee before November 23 or with the old fee after November 23.

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:

  • If a petition filed through the regular filing process exceeds 14 days in processing times, immediately call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 800-375-5283 to initiate an inquiry into the status of your case.
  • Please share your recent experiences with the petition process!  Send an email to Dance/USA's Government Affairs Director, Amy Fitterer, at afitterer@danceusa.org. 

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.

Seeking Your Response to Artist Visa Survey!
Dance/USA, in coalition with the Performing Arts Alliance, is asking for your participation in a quick survey that will help support ongoing improvements to the U.S. visa process for foreign guest artists.  As reported earlier this summer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has promised substantial policy changes to make the artist visa process more reliable, efficient, and affordable.  Your participation in this survey will help us monitor USCIS progress towards these goals, and inform our future advocacy efforts on behalf of the dance field.  Please take a few minutes to complete the survey via the link below by the deadline of Monday, October 15th.  Your feedback is essential as we continue to communicate with USCIS on ways to improve and streamline the foreign guest artist visa process. 
Complete the Artist Visa Survey


Latest FCC Rulemaking & Wireless Microphones Used in the Performing Arts

On September 23rd, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new rules for the use of the unlicensed White Space spectrum, where wireless microphones currently operate.  The FCC ruling reserved two channels for wireless microphones and other lower power auxiliary service devices to alleviate potential interference issues, and the FCC’s Office and Engineering and Technology will work to complete a geo-location database that will require the new White Space devices to query the database to confirm which spectrum frequencies are available for use.  The FCC believes the two channels reserved nationwide for wireless microphones, in combination with the channels that are unavailable to TV Band White Space Devices, will provide ample protected spectrum for the vast majority of wireless microphones.  Further, the FCC expects the two channels reserved for wireless microphones will permit 12 to 16 wireless microphones in any location.  The ruling recognizes that certain events will use “scores of wireless microphones” and cannot be accommodated by the channels available.  In those instances, the entities responsible for the event can request registration in the geo-location database.

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

As a founding member of the Performing Arts Alliance, Dance/USA tracks federal appropriations bills for the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts in Education Programs at the Department of Education and Cultural Exchange Programs at the State Department.  As Congress has made limited progress on the appropriations bills this year, the House and Senate will be passing a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through October 1, the start of the government’s fiscal year.  It is anticipated that most spending bills will remain level with FY10 amounts until Congress can take up the appropriations process again.

Funding Opportunity for Dance Artists and Organizations Traveling Abroad

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has announced the application and grant guidelines for the Performing Arts Initiative, a program that awards funds to officers at U.S. Embassies to support cultural programming in the performing arts.  See attached for application and procedure information issued by the State Department. To view the application and procedures, click here.

How to Claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
The IRS has released updated information on how to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. The IRS also announced how eligible tax-exempt organizations will claim the credit during the 2011 filing season. Both small businesses and tax-exempt organizations will use Form 8941 (still in draft format) to calculate the credit. For more information, you may visit the following IRS Press Release and IRS FAQ.

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Judith Jamison – Watch the Videos!
On Tuesday, September 7, First Lady Michelle Obama honored Judith Jamison at a special White House dance event. Jamison joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 1965 as a dancer and, in 1989, she was appointed Artistic Director of the company. After 20 years with the company, Judith Jamison will be retiring in 2011. The White House dance event honoring Judith Jamison was directed by Damian Woetzel, artistic director of Vail International Dance Festival, and included workshops for dance students and performances by Washington Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Super CR3W and a solo from Billy Elliot the Musical.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4c4ODERGsw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0jAQ0K-uRA

AmeriCorps, Notice of Funding Available

Nonprofit arts organizations are eligible to apply for a variety of programs through the Corporation for National and Community Service. In particular, arts programs that address one of the six priority areas of the agency, while addressing unmet community needs, will be more likely to receive support. The six priority areas are: improving education, energy conservation, the health of all Americans, economic opportunity for economically vulnerable individuals, increasing service by and for veterans, and providing disaster services. To read the Notice of Funding Available, click here. More information on the funds available and program goals can be found in the press release.

Update Your Dance/USA Profile To Ensure Staff Receive Advocacy Alerts

Dance/USA represents the interests of the national dance community before Congress, the White House and federal agencies. As a founding member of the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA), Dance/USA works with the broader arts field to advocate for the development of national policies that recognize and strengthen the art field’s ability to contribute to American life. All Dance/USA members receive free membership with the Performing Arts Alliance, including PAA Advocacy Updates and Action Alert Emails.

Ensure the staff at your organization receives PAA emails! Login to the Dance/USA website and update your organizational profile with the staff contacts at your organization. Updating your organization’s profile with the staff at your organization will not only increase the sharing of advocacy information, but will increase our collective impact on federal arts advocacy. 

Dance/USA Board Member, John Malashock, Advocates for Arts Education

John Malashock, member of Dance/USA’s Board of Trustees and founder of Malashock Dance, recently participated in a meeting with Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) in her home district of San Diego.  Accompanied by arts education advocates from the San Diego Youth Symphony, the San Diego Commission for the Arts and Culture, and the San Diego County Office of Education, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss arts education policy and the need for increased assessments & reporting of arts education.  Click here to view a photo of the advocates with Rep. Davis.  Thank you, John Malashock, for your time and efforts in support of dance and arts education.

U.S. Immigration Services Promises Major Improvements for Artist Visas!
On July 20, Dance/USA, as a member of the Performing Arts Visa Working Group, participated in a Listening Session held at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington, DC.  The meeting gave USCIS an opportunity to hear comments and questions from a broad array of stakeholders concerning the adjudication of O and P nonimmigrant visas.  During the meeting, USCIS claimed the Agency is now processing O and P visas within 14 days at both the California Processing Center and the Vermont Processing Center (does not include delays caused by Requests for Further Evidence).  USCIS also encouraged stakeholders to contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center if a petition, which has not received an RFE, takes longer than 14 days for adjudication.  Concerns raised by stakeholders addressed the inconsistent and unreliable adjudication of O and P visas, the unjust Requests for Further Evidence and unjust denials.  USCIS leadership states that they hear the concerns expressed by the arts community and that the Agency is conducting a serious review of the entire O and P visa processing system.

Experiencing visa troubles?  Please contact Dance/USA’s Government Affairs Department at advocacy@danceusa.org.  Thank you!

Interested in more advocacy news?  Visit our ADVOCACY NEWS ARCHIVES.



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