Health Care, Arts Ed, Visa, & NEA News - (August 20, 2009)

Arts and the Health Care Reform Debate

Washington, D.C. - As Congress, the Administration, and the general public grapple with complicated and competing health care reform proposals, the League is working to understand the impact on orchestras. While we continue to examine this complex arena, the League has endorsed two specific policy recommendations:

  • The League has signed on to pdf recommendations to strengthen support for the arts in health and therapeutic settings.
  • We are endorsing the effort by the broader charitable community to ensure that nonprofit employers providing health care coverage will receive relief and incentives comparable to their for-profit counterparts.

While the League supports improving our nation’s health care system, we have not taken a position on other specific health care proposals. We will keep orchestras informed as this important policy discussion moves ahead.
Act to Avoid Visa Delays
If your orchestra engages international artists, please be aware of the following visa trends and act to avoid delays! The League, together with our colleagues in the Performing Arts Alliance, American Federation of Musicians, and NAPAMA, recently met with senior officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) headquarters and are calling for improved visa policies.

File Early!
Recent developments at USCIS, the federal agency that processes artist visa petitions, are causing delays. USCIS is responding to many well-assembled visa petitions with unusual and time consuming requests for additional evidence. Also, contradicting current regulations and previously-approved practice, USCIS has recently rejected some "multiple venue" petitions, in which a single orchestra applies for a visa on behalf of multiple orchestras engaging the same the artist.

Filing your petition as soon as an artist is confirmed can provide the necessary cushion to help absorb unexpected USCIS delays. USCIS will accept visa petitions filed up to one year in advance of a performance. Find more details on the Artists from Abroad web site.

Help Us Help You
If your orchestra receives an unusual request for evidence, or is denied the opportunity to file a multiple venue petition, please let us know. Your specific case examples are essential to improving artist visa policies 
Secretary Duncan Voices Support for Arts Education
This is the moment to make the case for arts education in your community! Your orchestra and arts advocates nationwide have some fresh talking points to leverage, courtesy of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Three sources provide valuable quotes endorsing the legitimacy of the arts as a core academic subject of learning:

  • An August pdf letter from Secretary Duncan to school leaders emphasizes that the arts are a core subject of learning and that states and localities can use federal funds to support the arts.
  • Remarks by Duncan in an August 18 teleconference sponsored by NAMM and confirm that arts education can help meet national education goals of closing the achievement gap and raising the bar on student and school performance.
  • On the occasion of the June release of the Nation's Arts Report Card, Secretary Duncan said, "We can and should do better for America's students."

As students in your community head back to school, gear up to advocate for music education. Check out our Music Education Advocacy Tools, read our tips for launching your advocacy effort, and make sure your orchestra has endorsed the League Statement of Common Cause in support of in-school music education!

Landesman Confirmed as NEA Chair
Rocco Landesman has begun his role as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts with a call for robust support for arts education and a commitment to the role of the arts in civic renewal. Elizabeth "Deba" Leach has been named as a senior advisor for arts education, and Joan Shigekawa, formerly of the Rockefeller Foundation, will serve as Senior Deputy Chair.

Congress has yet to set next year's NEA funding levels. So far, the House has approved a $15 million increase, while the Senate appropriations committee and President Obama have recommended a $6.3 million increase. Before the bill can advance to the White House to be signed, the two chambers will need to reach consensus on a final appropriations amount. Communities across the country benefits from NEA grants to orchestras. It's not too late to contact your Senators to urge support for increased NEA funding.


Please direct any related questions to Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Najean Lee, Government Affairs & Education Advocacy Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.