Agency Nominations, Policy Updates, and More
October 8, 2021
In This Issue
- Still Time to Act on Arts and Recovery
- Reminder! New Charitable Giving Incentives Encourage Donors to Give More
- Shuttered Venue Operators Grants: Reporting Requirements Coming Soon
- International Guest Artists Experiencing Visa Delays and Complications
- Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson Nominated to Lead National Endowment for the Arts
- Arts Education Legislation Nears Introduction
- October is National Arts and Humanities Month
Congress will be working throughout the coming weeks to negotiate and finalize the focus of massive infrastructure and budget reconciliation packages. As these legislative vehicles hold the potential to provide additional resources for COVID-19 economic recovery and substantial federal policies and funding support, orchestras are joining the wider arts and nonprofit sectors in urging Congress to support our nation’s cultural agencies, creative workforce, nonprofit policies, and the ongoing need for relief via essential sources like the employee retention tax credit (ERTC). See the League’s Recovery Issue Center for more information and a link to contact Congress with a customizable message.
Donors are incentivized to give more to nonprofit organizations through important tax incentives available through December 31, 2021! The universal charitable deduction, available to the growing number of tax payers that do not itemize their returns, was created under the 2020 CARES Act, and was extended through 2021 and expanded so that single filers may deduct up to $300, and joint filers will be eligible for a $600 deduction for cash contributions. Also for calendar year 2021, taxpayers that itemize their returns will see the limit on the total percentage of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) eligible for the charitable deduction lifted to 100%, and the limit on corporate contributions has been raised to 25%. An IRS Tax Tip issued on September 28 spells out how these giving incentives work and can be a very helpful resource for donors that may be unaware of these important incentives to give more. The League’s charitable giving advocacy campaign calls on Congress to enact policies to permanently strengthen charitable giving incentives.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to process supplemental grant awards, appeals, and initial grant reconsiderations for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) program. As the agency makes progress on awarding initial grants and disbursing supplemental funds, the SBA has developed guidelines for SVOG compliance and reporting requirements that are undergoing final agency review and will be published soon. For many SVOG grant recipients, this will either be a first experience with a federal grant, or by far the largest federal grant award their organization has received. The League will keep orchestras informed on these important developments and, in the meantime, preliminary guidance is available in the SBA’s applicant FAQ and post-application guidance.
Orchestras and other arts presenters throughout the U.S. anxiously await the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in November that have been greatly complicating travel for artists coming from or through 33 countries. In addition to the uncertainty of COVID-19 travel restrictions, consular delays worldwide continue to threaten the ability of artists to secure timely appointments for collecting their visas, and in many cases performances have had to be canceled or rescheduled for a future date. The League’s Washington D.C. office is available to provide several forms of assistance and advice. In addition to directly supporting member visa petitions, the League continues to pursue policy improvements with the federal agencies responsible for the approval and issuance of visas and also maintains up-to-date guidance about navigating the visa process via www.ArtistsfromAbroad.org. We will continue to update a dedicated news page on COVID-related visa news and international travel and provide information broadly once concrete details are available regarding new travel rules. Meanwhile, member orchestras are strongly encouraged to stay in touch with the League as soon as any challenges arise.
President Biden has nominated Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson to Chair the National Endowment for the Arts. Dr. Jackson, who has served on the advisory council to the NEA since 2013, is a longtime arts and humanities administrator and professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. The nomination of Dr. Jackson, as well as Shelly Lowe who is nominated to Chair the National Endowment for the Humanities, will next await confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) will shortly be introducing the Arts Education for All Act, which seeks to support and encourage arts education and programming for early learners, K-12 students, and young people in the juvenile justice system, and strengthen the mandate for the U.S. Department of Education to collect data on learning in the arts. Rep. Bonamici serves on the House Education and Labor Committee, founded the Congressional STEAM Caucus (Science, Technology, Engineer, Arts, and Math), and has been a consistent champion for the arts since entering office. The League of American Orchestras is an endorser of the Arts Education for All Act, and organizations and individuals may endorse the bill as it readies for introduction. Music education advocates can also learn more about how to support music education at all levels through the League’s Music Education Advocacy center.
Join us – and the White House – in celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) throughout October. This year, our country’s highest level of office has joined in recognizing “the essential role the arts and humanities play in our Nation’s economy, democracy, health, and vitality.” The National Endowment for the Arts will be promoting the role of the arts in the following areas: Creative economy/American Rescue Plan (Oct 4), Equity (Oct 14), Education (Oct 18), Health and wellness (Oct 21), and Military Communities (Oct 27).