Latest Arts Policy Developments

February 17, 2017

  How to Stay A Step Ahead of Rapid Policy Changes  
  There is no shortage of recent policy developments in Washington, D.C. that intersect with the many ways orchestras serve their communities. Following is a summary of key actions that have taken place in just the past few weeks, and the ways the League and orchestras are getting engaged in the policy process. Here are some ways to act now that will position the arts well for the policy action that's ahead of us:
  • Home Meetings: Congress has just gone home for a week-long recess. See our calendar of opportunities for when to meet your members of Congress in their home districts and states, and invite them to see your orchestra's value to your community first-hand. 
  • Speak Up and Stay Tuned: The League has open online advocacy campaigns on all of the issues that matter to our members. A link to each of them is included below. We will notify you with action alerts that let you know of pivotal moments to make your voice heard. In the meantime, please use the key messages and background to inform your ongoing conversations with your elected officials. The most effective advocacy is personalized and happens long before a vote is taken.
  • Plan for Arts Advocacy Day: Our advocacy strategies are shaped in close partnership with the broader national arts and nonprofit communities. The League is once again serving as a national partner of National Arts Advocacy Day, which will take place this year on March 21, 2017. The League helps to craft the policy briefs on a wide range of issues, and our D.C. staff has a direct hand in training the hundreds of advocates that will visit their elected officials on Capitol Hill. We've penned a letter to Congress summarizing our key policy asks, and we'll be sending you an alert about how you can join in Arts Advocacy Day from home.

Bipartisan Senate Letter Calls for President Trump to Support NEA and NEH  
NEA FundingWhile a single, much-publicized news report in January suggested that the future of direct federal support for the arts is threatened with elimination under the new Administration, President Trump has not yet put forward a recommendation for funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He has placed two transition team members within the NEA, and the agency is currently funded at $148 million. Under the ongoing leadership of Chairman Jane Chu, the NEA continues to deliver direct grants, national research, and support to state arts agencies.
Both the NEA and NEH have consistently received bipartisan support from funding leaders in both the House and Senate in recent years. Proof of that support continued this week in a letter from 24 Senators to President Trump, requesting support for "these fundamental American institutions" as the President continues to shape the FY18 budget request he will submit to Congress in the coming weeks or months. Next steps are expected in the House, as the funding committee begins hearings on the Interior Appropriations bill on February 28.


  New Visa Enforcement Actions Anticipated  

Artists Visas: The League has partnered with 20 other national arts organizations ona joint statement that urges policy leaders to retain access to artist visas and support opportunities for worldwide cultural exchange as the Department of Homeland Security takes next steps in its review of national security measures. President Trump announced yesterday that a new executive order on immigration policy will be issued within days, following court action that suspended implementation of his prior executive order. The League provides up-to-the minute guidance for navigating all changes to the artist visa process on our dedicated website,, to help orchestras ensure that they can continue to engage international guest artists for performances.

  Nonprofits Unify to Support Giving Incentives in Tax Reform  

Charitable Giving: In the coming weeks and months Congress is crafting comprehensive tax reform proposals, and the Senate is likely to take action to see that a tax package can pass its chamber by a simplAlan Jordan, ED of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and fellow nonprofit delegates meet with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochestere majority vote before the end of the year. Any big-picture changes on tax rates and the size of the standard deduction could significantly impact the private contributions that support orchestras and the full array of nonprofit organizations that serve community needs. The League is an active member of the Charitable Giving Coalition and issued a call to action for orchestras to join nonprofit organizations nationwide this week to ask Congress to protect and expand incentives for giving.    
(Photographed: Alan Jordan, executive director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and fellow nonprofit delegates meet with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester)

  States Move Ahead to Implement New Education Law  
Arts EducationOn February 10, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a letter to all state education leaders encouraging continued progress on state plans for implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which are due to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education this spring and fall. ESSA was crafted with bipartisan support in 2015 and includes new provisions to support a well-rounded education while also handing more flexibility to the states for implementation. The League is asking Congress to fully fund the arts education and well-rounded provisions of the new law, while orchestras engage at the state and local level to call for more equitable access to a complete arts education as states shape their ESSA implementation plans.