NEA Deadline Extended, Obama Announces Ed Plan, Policy Updates (3/13/2009)

NEA Access Deadline Extended!
Washington, D.C. - Orchestras now have an extra week to submit applications for the Access to Artistic Excellence, Part One. Due to technical issues with the website beyond the agency's control, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will accept Access, Part I application materials through March 19, 2009.

Review the League's Tips for NEA Grant Applications

Congress Approves FY09 Increase for NEA and Arts Education
President Obama signed a catch-all spending bill passed by Congress this week, which allocates $155 million for the NEA, an increase of $10.3 million from last year's funding level. Thank you for contacting Congress in support of the NEA! Advocacy efforts by orchestras in 2008 were closely coordinated with national efforts by the entire arts community, resulting in continued advances in NEA funding.

Also included in the omnibus bill was a $633,000 increase in funding for the competitive Arts in Education grant programs of the U.S. Department of Education. Despite the proposal of the past administration to eliminate Arts in Education spending, along with a number of smaller education programs, Congress acted once again to support arts education by approving $38.166 million for Arts in Education spending. A pdf recent study released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds significant declines in arts education for minority and low-income students and calls for further research by the U.S. Department of Education to discover the status of arts education in our nation's schools.

The Educational and Cultural Exchange programs of the U.S. State Department received $538 million for FY09. While it is not clear how much of this funding might be dedicated to the grant program that supports international cultural exchanges, this represents an overall increase for the program. The League will be in touch as opportunities may arise for orchestras to apply for open competitions.

Learn More about Federal Funding Opportunities

Obama Calls for Creativity and Innovation in Education Plan
In March 10 remarks announcing his education policy plan, President Obama said, "It's time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career." The plan emphasizes early childhood education, performance pay for teachers, local school innovation, and lifelong learning opportunities. Orchestras, as local partners in strengthening arts education in the schools, have been calling for national, state, and local policies that ensure that every student has access to a complete education - one that includes comprehensive education in the arts.

While the plan does not specify arts education proposals, President Obama acknowledged the role that creativity will play in preparing students for a 21st century workforce, saying "I'm calling on our nation's governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity." The plan also calls for doubling funding for afterschool programs , which have often provided opportunities for orchestras and other community organizations to partner with schools. Throughout this year, Congress and the White House will continue to work on the multi-year process of re-writing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as No Child Left Behind).

See How You Can Weigh In

Nonprofits Fear Cap on Deduction
President Obama's FY10 budget blueprint includes a proposal to cap at 28% the deductibility of contributions by families earning more than $250,000, to offset the costs of health care reform. The Obama proposal has come under public scrutiny in the press, key leaders on the Hill have indicated that they would oppose the limit, and members of the nonprofit community have objected to the policy, as it could potentially inhibit incentives to charitable giving. The Administration has recently indicated that it may be willing to seek other options to fund health care reform. The League is concerned that the cap on charitable deductions may negatively impact giving to orchestras. We are working in partnership with our nonprofit peers to address these concerns and will keep you posted on these policy developments.

See the League's Charitable Giving Issue Brief



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.