July 20, 2023

In This Issue

House Proposes Cuts for Arts and Culture

Within the past week, the Appropriations Committees in the House of Representatives with jurisdiction over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Education have passed recommendations for fiscal year 2024 that would include a 10% decrease for both Endowments and a zeroing out of the Assistance for Arts Education grant program at the U.S. Department of Education. For context, across-the-board cuts are recommended for most federal spending areas, some at even more drastic levels than the cuts proposed for cultural agencies. The Committee budget recommendation for the Department of Education’s Title IV-A “well-rounded” education resources would see level funding, but cuts to Title I and proposals to eliminate other major education spending areas like Title II programs would effectively negate the ability for Title IV-A to accomplish its goals. These proposals are just the first in a multi-step process of passing a Congressional budget. Advocates can play their part by contacting their federally elected officials to let them know how their constituents feel about the public good and benefit of these programs.

Good News: Visa Fee Decision Delayed to 2024

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reported that a final decision on new visa fees and rules will not occur until March 2024. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is still considering the high volume of public feedback on the massive fee increases proposed in January 2023, and will take those comments into account before issuing final rules that set new fee levels and the date the fees would go into effect. Orchestras, partnering with global arts entities and policy leaders, have been speaking up in opposition to the fee increase. The League of American Orchestras went on record alongside 120 arts organizations and businesses in joint comments (PDF) to oppose proposals that would more than triple the current artist visa filing fee, cap the number of beneficiaries for group petitions, and lengthen the time USCIS has to respond to petitions filed via Premium Processing Service. These messages were reinforced in comments from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

The League and partners at the national and international level continue to work together to press for comprehensive improvements to the artist visa process and will share updates as they come. In the meantime, please continue to refer to the League’s artist visa resources for help in navigating the visa process.

New Energy Program: Renew America’s Nonprofits

Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that own and operate their buildings may be eligible to participate in the new energy efficiency grant program, Renew America’s Nonprofits, created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The U.S. Department of Energy is bundling subgrant opportunities under 5-15 primary funding recipients that will be announced this October. Connecting potential subgrantees to prime recipients will continue through summer of 2024. Potential applicants can learn more now and have the option of registering their interest through the teaming partner list found on the Renew America’s Nonprofits funding opportunity announcement.

August Plans: Engage Your Policymakers!

A broad range of policy issues unfolding at the federal level impact the work orchestras do within their local communities. Building and maintaining a two-way relationship with elected officials is well worth the time, and the League’s Calendar of Opportunities suggests ways your orchestra can communicate with policymakers each month. The August recess is the longest break Congress tends to take, which makes it an ideal time to meet with elected officials and their staff face to face right in their district and state. As you connect with your officials, please keep us posted and share any photos so we can boost your efforts!

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