Performing Arts Alliance Newsletter
    December 16, 2015
  Year-End Legislation Proposes Huge Wins for the Arts!  


In this Issue:

Legislation Proposes Wins for the Arts
IRS Substantiation
Visa Processing Delays
Net Neutrality in Court
NEA Announcements & Deadlines
Visit Your Officials
Arts Advocacy Day 2016  


Omnibus Spending Bill & PATH Act Propose Wins for the Arts


This week, Congress released the text of the FY16 Omnibus Spending bill to fund federal agencies. Here are some arts-related funding recommendations:

  • National Endowment for the Arts: $147,949,000 recommendation

This would be an increase of almost $2 million over FY15 appropriations, and also an increase over the $146 million the House and Senate approved for the agency in their FY16 Interior Appropriations bills in June. The NEA has had level funding since FY12, and this would be the first recommended increase in recent years.

  • US. Department of Education: $27 million recommended for Arts in Education

This would be a $2 million increase over both FY15 appropriations and the $25 million recommended by the Senate in its FY16 Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill.


Also this week, the Senate Finance Committee released the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. The bill recommends permanent extension of several charitable provisions, including the IRA Charitable Rollover, a tax provision that allows donors over age 70-1/2 to make tax-free contributions of up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to nonprofit organizations.


PAA, along with arts and nonprofit advocates, has been hard at work on these issues for our sector, however, we're not done just yet: Congress must vote to approve this legislation.  Stay tuned for updates as voting is likely to happen this week before the scheduled December recess.


Thank you for your ongoing advocacy on behalf of the performing arts!  

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PAA Weighs in on IRS Substantiation Regulations

In September, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed new regulations that would establish a voluntary process for nonprofits to substantiate gifts of $250 or more from individual donors. The process would require nonprofits to file a voluntary, alternative information return that would require collecting donors' Social Security numbers (SSN) or taxpayer identification numbers (TIN) to substantiate gifts.


On behalf of its members, PAA submitted comments to the IRS opposing these new regulations. We thank everyone who responded to our alert about this issue and took action for the arts, submitting comments on behalf of your organization. PAA will keep you updated as the regulatory process continues.  
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Delays and Increased Security Measures in Visa Processing


Arts organizations that engage foreign guest artists should be aware of substantial processing delays at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers. Both service centers are reportedly taking a minimum of 8-10 weeks to process petitions, with Vermont taking even longer. Many organizations are opting to file via Premium Processing Service (PPS), so be advised that if you have engagements for foreign guest artists taking place before the spring, your safest bet may be to upgrade your petitions to PPS. Please see Artists from Abroad for more information and additional resources.

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Net Neutrality in DC Circuit Court


On December 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments about the FCC's new Open Internet Order (Net Neutrality Rules) that took effect in June.


Petitioners from the telecom industry seeking to block the rules argued against the FCC's rulemaking process, its authority to reclassify broadband as common carrier telecommunications service, and stated concerns about First Amendment rights. Supporters of the FCC's rules also made arguments at the brief hearing. Judges are expected to make a decision this spring.


The FCC has faced several court challenges over net neutrality over the past decade, and it is predicted that this current challenge could reach the Supreme Court. PAA will keep you updated as the DC Circuit Court heads towards a decision.

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NEA Announces FY16 Grant Awards and Upcoming Deadlines


This month, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the first round of grant awards in the FY16 funding cycle. Over $27 million was awarded to 1,126 projects in 49 states.


Awards were granted in the Challenge America and Art Works categories. Art Works included a special "Imagine Your Parks" initiative that celebrated the milestones of the NEA's 50th anniversary and the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.


The NEA has also posted information about upcoming Art Works deadlines, including deadlines for the new Art Works Creativity Connects initiative. More information, including application guidelines, is available here on the NEA's website.

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Don't Forget to Visit Your Elected Officials During Recess!


Legislators are headed back to their states and districts for the December recess. Contact your legislators to thank them for their support of policies that affect the performing arts sector, or encourage them to consider the important impact our sector has on their communities.

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Save the Date: Arts Advocacy Day 2016

PAA is a national co-sponsor for Arts Advocacy Day 2016 to be held March 7-8 in Washington, DC.  The annual event, organized by Americans for the Arts, brings together hundreds of arts and cultural advocates from around the nation to speak up for the arts on Capitol Hill. Registration is currently open online.
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The Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) is a 501c4 multi-disciplinary coalition of national service organizations from the professional nonprofit performing arts field. Through legislative and grassroots action, PAA advocates before the U.S. Congress and key policy makers for national policies that enhance and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.