Policy Updates, Tax Incentives, and Stimulus Resources (5/01/2009)

Tax Incentives Get Nod from Congress

May 1, 2009, Washington, D.C. - Congress has just wrapped up its budget resolution - the nonbinding blueprint for how it will allocate federal resources. The broad outline includes some positive signs of support for measures that will help to stabilize and increase charitable contributions to orchestras and others in the nonprofit community. The resolution calls for a two-year extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover provision, which will expire at the end of 2009 if Congress does not act. Orchestra advocacy in 2008 on behalf of this giving incentive helped lead to its temporary reinstatement. The Congressional budget plan further signaled support for charitable giving incentives by omitting a proposal by President Obama that would offset the costs of health care reform by capping at 28% the deductibility of contributions by families earning more than $250,000. While these are early signs of Congressional support for charitable giving, the pressure is on in Washington to find resources to fund the shared priorities of Congress and the Administration (such as health care, education, and energy). The League will keep you informed as the debate moves ahead.

Read More About Tax Issues

Artist Visa Act Reintroduced

Relief may be on the way for orchestras and other performing arts organizations continuing to encounter significant delays and unpredictability when applying for visas for foreign guest artists. On March 31, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and eight other bipartisan co-sponsors reintroduced the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, which would streamline the artist visa process. The League, in partnership with our national partners in the Performing Arts Alliance and the American Federation of Musicians, is again seeking passage of the bill. The ARTS Act passed in the House in 2008, but did not clear the Senate before year's end. The League's D.C. office will alert you of strategic moments when your advocacy is needed on this issue. In the meantime, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to share your examples of visa concerns or to seek help in navigating the visa process.

Learn About the ARTS Act and League Visa Services

Economic Stimulus Resources Available

To help you understand the complex array of economic stimulus funding currently delivered by federal, state, and local agencies, please see the following resources:

  • The National Council of Nonprofits offers a series of special reports designed to help understand the connection between the nation's economic recovery and nonprofit organizations, including an analysis of Nonprofit Grant Opportunities, and grant tips .
  • In addition to direct grant awards for arts organizations, currently under consideration, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded 63 Recovery and Reinvestment grants to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. Recovery grant guidelines vary by state and regional agencies, so orchestras should consult the list of state and regional recipients online and inquire directly about the funding process.
  • The Arts Education Partnership has released a very helpful full analysis of the U.S. Department of Education (USED) economic stimulus funding. The USED has released guidelines for distributing economic stimulus funding, which includes funds for Title I education programs such as school modernization and state fiscal stabilization.

Find More Sources of Stimulus Funding for the Performing Arts
Obama Signs Service Act

National and community service programs will greatly expand under legislation signed by President Obama on April 21 . The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (HR 1388) amends the 1990 National and Community Service Act and authorizes new programs that could triple the number of volunteers participating in volunteer community service.

While the arts have previously been eligible to receive support from National Service programs, language in the new bill directly calls for arts-related volunteerism activities within the "Education Corps." Education Corps is one of four new service corps and its purpose is to identify and fill unmet educational needs within communities. While programmatic details are yet to be worked out, the Education Corps legislative language calls for artists to promote greater community unity through the use of arts education and engagement through work in low-income communities, educational settings, health care, therapeutic settings, and other engagement with citizens of all ages.

At this time details of the legislative language have yet to be worked out and funding needs to be approved. The League will be keeping you informed about opportunities specific to orchestras as more information emerges about the new programs.

Learn About the Serve America Act

Congress Hears Musician Testimony

The impact that the economic downturn is having on the arts was the topic of a March 26 hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor. Bruce Ridge, Chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians and a musician in the North Carolina Symphony, delivered testimony in which he described the effects of the economic downturn for professional musicians. Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) commented, "Without the contributions and influence of the arts, our economy suffers greatly. Families suffer from lay-offs, lost income, and purchasing power. When we talk about the arts and music we're not just talking about artists and musicians. We're also talking about museums and galleries, and symphonies and orchestras, community theatres and non-profits that shape our neighborhoods, our towns, and our cities. This industry helps attract audience, spurs local business development, stimulating learning in classrooms."

Read Complete Remarks


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.