Budget, International Travel, and more

April 12, 2013

Nonprofits Defend Charitable Giving Incentives
 As budget debates once again ramp up, the White House and Congress continue to consider imposing limits on charitable giving incentives. The President’s FY14 budget request once again includes a 28% cap on the rate of tax deductibility for charitable donations, and House and Senate budget and tax policy committees are weighing a range of potential limitations, primarily as cost-saving measures. The League has joined a broad array of national nonprofits calling on Washington’s policy makers to take the charitable deduction off the revenue table once and for all. Reducing incentives to give would shrink the resources available to support community needs. The League has submitted testimony to Congress urging protection and expansion of charitable giving incentives and illustrating the public value orchestras contribute in partnership with other community-based nonprofit organizations. Earlier this week, we joined dozens of other national nonprofit groups in sending a letter to President Obama urging protection of tax incentives for charitable giving. Learn more about this important policy area.

NEA Up, Arts Ed Down in White House Budget
NEA Funding: The President's FY14 budget proposes $154.466 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which would nearly restore the agency to FY11 funding levels. Congressional action on the budget process will begin in the coming weeks, and the League of American Orchestras will submit testimony to both the House and Senate explaining the public value of grants to orchestras. Funding debates in D.C. promise to be intense, and orchestras are joining other arts advocates in asking Congress to provide $155 million in NEA funding in FY14.

Arts in Education Funding: For the fifth consecutive year, the President’s budget proposes consolidating the Arts in Education program into a new, broader funding pool titled “Effecting Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education.” This program seeks to combine support for “the arts, health education, foreign languages, civics and government, history, geography, environmental education, economics and financial literacy, and other subjects,” eliminating direct competition and federal leadership for each subject independently. With each year, the proposed total funding for the consolidated “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education” program has decreased and the FY14 request from the White House is a mere $75 million to be shared by all of the subjects. In prior years, the proposal has not been adopted on the Hill, and in spite of the elimination of many other programs, Congress has protected the Arts in Education fund as a distinct program at nearly $25 million. Orchestras are asking Congress to provide $30 million to support the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education.

Yo-Yo Ma Makes Case for "Arts for Life's Sake"
With a compelling combination of remarks and performances, Yo-Yo Ma made the case for "Arts for Life's Sake" this week as the featured speaker during national Arts Advocacy Day events in Washington, D.C.. His message and artistry is available to view online.

Endangered Species "Passport" Approved
Musicians traveling internationally with instruments containing endangered species material (such as ivory, rosewood, and tortoise shell) will have access to a new permitting process in the coming months. International rules have long required special permits for entering and exiting each country with instruments containing protected materials. A proposal to create a streamlined “passport” process was approved by 178 nations at a March 13 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The existing permit process is extremely complicated, and confusion abounds about the current rules and what will come with the new passport process. The League continues to partner with the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, the International Society of Violin and Bow Makers, and others to seek clarity and technical assistance for musicians on how to navigate the evolving rules, and we are encouraging policymakers to ensure that any new permit process is affordable and efficient. Learn more here.

Proof of Visa Goes Paperless
The paper card issued to foreign working artists upon arrival to the U.S. is going electronic. U.S. Customs and Border protection has announced that, beginning April 30 and throughout mid-May, issuance of paper I-94 cards will be phased out at U.S. airports and verification of an individual’s visa status and the length of the approved stay will be accessible online at www.cbp.gov/I94. The new site will be up and running on April 30. While information about a visitor’s visa classification will be stamped into his/her passport and be accessible electronically, the I-94 remains the most important form of legal documentation for visa holders upon arrival in the U.S. We advise printing a hard copy. Learn more about this new development on ArtistsfromAbroad.org.

Early Childhood Education and the Arts
Everyone is talking about Pre-K, which received special attention in the President's State of the Union Address in February as he previewed a new Preschool for All initiative. There's an important role for the arts in early childhood development. Check out next week's webinar with the NEA Interagency Task Force on the Arts & Human Development. The free webinar will be held at 2pm EDT on Wednesday, April 17th. Interested participants can register online or check back at several days later for the archive.