Following election, regardless of who you voted for, I think it is a fair statement to say that this has been one of the most interesting and exhausting elections in our nation’s history in a number of different ways. The results have led to mixed feelings across the country, leaving many with questions of uncertainty. In our field, it has also raised issues of where the arts fall in this new transition?
Let’s start with the results. On the federal level, the White House, Senate and House of Representatives are under control of the Republicans. This election brought out the lowest voter turnout in a long time. This may in part be due to the lack of interest in the candidates, particularly in the presidential race. In the Senate, the Democrats gained two seats, making it 48 Democrat and 51 Republican. In the House, the Republicans maintain their majority with 238 Republican and 194 Democrat. This probably hasn’t made the headlines, but I found it interesting that across the states, majority of the Governors are Republican along with Republican-controlled state legislatures. This makes the Republicans in control of both the federal and state levels.
I know that the election results have been and still are met with controversy and division. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to say. I am not one who typically talks politics among my peers, but I feel for myself personally, I left this election feeling shocked yet not surprised, in disbelief, confused, scared, and with a diminishing gleam of hope. But now what can we do as part of the arts community to continue to make progress and mobilize? We need to come together and make our voices heard.
Sign the Arts Petition.
The Arts Action Fund of the Americans for the Arts as the nation’s leader in arts advocacy, has developed and will be sending an arts petition to the President-Elect. It outlines key pro-arts initiatives, that the new administration should take into consideration as they look to pass new legislation.
The petition calls for:
- Increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
- Ensuring full funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), particularly in terms of effective inclusion of the arts in a well-rounded education
- Maintaining and even expanding charitable tax deductions
- The establishment of a cabinet-level position solely dedicated to the arts and culture
- Support of Advancing the Arts to Support National Policy Priorities
To read and sign the petition, please click this link here.
Learn the new agendas.
With a new administration and a new year, we are now learning about their plans of action. As concerned individuals and advocates for dance and the arts, it is important that we stay informed on different politicians’ stance on key policies and where the arts fit in.
White House Agenda.
The President-Elect has not made many public statements about his thoughts on the arts. It is on record that he would leave funding of the NEA to Congress. We have seen an increase in NEA funding so there is hope that funding may stay the same if not continue to increase in the coming year. He has also said he would leave funding for arts education to the state and local levels. This can have a negative effect particularly as many states are operating under a deficit in their budgets.
The President-Elect has indicated that he is in favor of limiting the tax cap incentive at $100,000. This can be bad for funding for the arts as many organizations’ income is derived from large donations. This would not just affect the arts, but the nonprofit sector as a whole including hospitals, colleges & universities, and other charitable organizations such as the Red Cross.
Finally, he wants to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.5% each year. Since the arts are a large contributing factor to a boost in the economy, it is imperative, that we make our voices heard and encourage a jobs bill for the arts.
This past March, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, announced the introduction of the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act. This seeks to provide artists, galleries, and museums access to proper resources and programs to help support and grow their businesses, while sharing their art with the community.
The key provisions of this bill include:
- Having the Small Business Administration (SBA) to work with lenders to ensure artists have access to loans, and that their loan criteria are not discriminatory to the arts
- Expands grants from the Economic Development Administration and Rural Development Administration to the arts community
- Changes on taxes for donating and holding art
- Promotes economic planning to support artists
To read more about this bill, please click the link here.
The House is proposing A Better Way agenda to tackle issues such as poverty, national security, the economy, government corruption, health care, and tax reform. These are all areas that the arts can and have been making an impact, and it would be in our best interest to work with the Representatives to make sure that our common goals are met.
To learn more about this agenda, please visit their website here.
Here is a video from House Speaker, Paul Ryan, talking more on the A Better Way plan:
Now is the time to make our voices heard! Now is the time to speak out! We must advocate for the arts because if we don’t, no one else will. A wonderful opportunity that I encourage everyone to participate in is Arts Advocacy Day which will take place on March 20-21, 2017 in Washington DC. If you have never participated, it is a great opportunity to connect with others who are just as passionate about the arts as you are.
Here, participants receive training on advocacy, peer-to-peer learning, and networking opportunities. Topics include key policies to be aware of, and what to advocate for. On the second day, you will be able to spend time on capitol hill speaking with your congressional representatives about the impact the arts have on our communities.
To learn more about this event, please click here.
Here is a video with highlights about the 2016 Arts Advocacy Day: