Federal Legislation Update

Several pieces of Federal legislation are pending which will affect the creative sector. Our thanks to Americans for the Arts for providing these updates through our State Advocacy Captain, CAA Administrator Darren Farrington.

NEA Appropriations

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed ten appropriations bills, including an Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Bill which increases National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funding each by $12.5 million to a total of $167.5 million each.  The U.S. Senate may now begin to consider Appropriations bills. The proposed White House budget had eliminated funding for the NEA and NEH for the third consecutive year.

On August 1, Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2) and Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition will host an Arts, Culture and Humanities Federal Grants Forum. Representatives from the NEA, NEH, and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will present information about current grant programs and processes and criteria for applying. All Connecticut arts organizations are welcome, but space is limited, and registration is required. To register, visit www.culturesect.org.

CREATE Act

This spring, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reintroduced the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act  in both the U.S. Senate and House. Among the goals of the CREATE Act are “to assist entrepreneurs, support development of the creative economy, and encourage international cultural exchange.” As described by Americans for the Arts, “the CREATE Act aims to more thoroughly serve the people, places, and programs that make our nation’s creative economy prosper in all its cultural, social, and commercial forms.”

To date, no Connecticut Senators or Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the CREATE Act. Read here how to contact them and ask.

STAR Act

In June, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the Saving Transit Art Resources (STAR) Act. In 2015, Congress prohibited the use of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for including art in transit projects. Further, by accepting FTA funds, local government funding is restricted as well. The STAR Act would “allow certain funds to be used for incremental costs of incorporating art into facilities, and for other purposes,” thereby giving local communities the option of including the arts in federally funded transit projects.

No Connecticut Senators or Representatives have yet signed on as co-sponsors of the STAR Act. Click here to contact them.

RISE from Trauma Act

Also in June, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the bi-partisan RISE from Trauma Act “to improve the identification and support of children and families who experience trauma.” Americans Arts worked with Sen. Durbin’s staff to draft arts-focused language into the bill which would include state and local arts agencies among those eligible for support and which would add a new grant-making category to the NEA’s authorizing language for “projects, programs, and workshops that provide therapy and creative expression opportunities through the arts for children, and their families as appropriate, who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma.”

CAA will continue to provide updates on these and other Federal bills affecting the creative sector.

Help #SAVEtheNEA

Save the NEAThe Board and Staff of Connecticut Arts Alliance have written to the State’s Federal legislators and are reaching out to all arts supporters to help save and encourage funding of the National Endowment for the Arts.

On February 12, 2018, President Trump released his FY 2019 budget request.  The President’s proposal includes the termination of our nation’s cultural grant-making agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Last July, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a funding level of $145 million for the NEA, which represented a $5 million cut. In November, the Senate set the NEA’s funding level at $150 million for FY18, which is level with its current budget (and only 0.004% of the Federal budget). As the funding process moves forward, we encourage our legislators to support no less than a funding level of $150 million for the NEA for FY18. We also ask them to support funding in the amount of $155 million for FY19 and to reject the President’s request to terminate the NEA.

The NEA is the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in America. For more than 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts for all Americans, awarding grants throughout all 50 states and U.S. Territories. NEA grants help leverage more than a 9 to 1 match in private charitable gifts and other state and local public funding. The NEA also has an exemplary partnership with the states, with 40 percent of program funds distributed through state arts agencies. In 2017, fourteen arts organizations in Connecticut directly received NEA funding, hundreds more indirectly benefitted from an NEA grant to the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and millions of our State’s citizens and out-of-state tourists have enjoyed NEA-funded programming.

With only a $150 million current annual budget, the NEA investments in the arts helps contribute to a $730 billion economic arts and culture economic industry, including 4.2 percent of the annual GDP and supporting 4.8 million jobs that yields a $26 billion trade surplus for the country. In Connecticut, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $797.3 million in annual economic activity in the state, supporting over 23,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $72.3 million in local and state government revenues.

We ask all supporters of the arts to contact their legislators to request their assurance that this work continues by supporting no less than $150 million for the NEA in the FY18 budget and $155 million in FY19.

Arts and the State Budget

Arts MatterWith a state budget still not passed in Connecticut, arts organizations—along with all other businesses and economic sectors—face uncertain financial futures. A survey conducted among nonprofit arts organizations and arts providers in September indicated that the delay in passing a state budget had already affected over 58% of respondents, primarily in requiring programming cuts. Other negative effects were payroll cuts, hiring freezes, reduction in operating hours, nonpayment of accounts payable, lack of booking arts education programs and performances through schools, and massive efforts to replace state dollars with private funding. Over 66% of respondents believed that further delay in passing a budget would cause additional hardships, with the most extreme fear being a forced closure.

As we continue to wait for a state budget, it is important to stress the economic necessity of arts funding—which represents only 0.02% of that budget—to our legislators. The following two messages must be our priority.

  • In order for Connecticut not to completely disqualify itself from receiving federal NEA matching funds, the state budget MUST have at least $1 million in designated arts funds sourced through the General Fund, and not through a fund that is controlled only by revenues generated by the hotel tax, as is currently proposed. Current budget proposals will disqualify Connecticut from receiving matching NEA funding.
  • In order to maintain, an already bare bones nonprofit cultural sector that has proven to be a sound and dependable return on investment, the arts need to receive at least $5 million in additional funding from the newly proposed Marketing, Culture and Tourism Account. That is what will allow the arts sector to continue to generate state and local revenues and make our state a great place to live, work, and play.

Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $797.25 million in annual economic activity in the state of Connecticut, supporting over 23,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $72.27 million in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts.

Please keep these facts in mind and, arts organizations and supporters, please continue to share them with your legislators and stress the importance of keeping the arts alive in our great state!