February 27, 2017
  Artists Visas, Charitable Giving, and More: PAA February 2017 Advocacy Report  
 

In this issue:


Relationships with Members of Congress are Essential

Building relationships with members of Congress is essential so that they are aware of the work we do in communities. Performing arts organizations provide educational programming, support cultural awareness, and contribute economic impact and overall well-being. If you have a new lawmaker in office, take the time to write or call to introduce your organization and share stories about your impact. Here are a few tips to help you make contact:

  • You can find contact information for your lawmaker's local and Capitol Hill offices here: http://bit.ly/2jsHDDb.

  • Nonprofits are allowed by law to participate in advocacy: educating lawmakers about particular issues. There is no limit on educational advocacy activities.

  • Nonprofits are also allowed by law to lobby: activities to influence lawmakers' positions on legislation. There are legal limits to lobbying based on the amount of funds expended, but these are generous limits and most nonprofits come nowhere close to them.

  • The arts have bipartisan support in Congress. Keep your communications with lawmakers and their staff nonpartisan in tone.

  • Focus on the specific policy issues that concern you or share programmatic information, such as facts and figures that illustrate the impact your organization makes in your state or district.

  • Try to meet in person with your lawmakers when they are at home for recess and don't underestimate the important role congressional staff play in making policy recommendations. Check out the 2017 House calendar (http://bit.ly/2gHL2yM) and the 2017 Senate calendar (http://bit.ly/2lwx2rC) to plan ahead for recess periods.

Visit the PAA Arts Advocacy Toolkit for more information, and also visit the PAA Arts Advocacy Issue Center for facts and talking points on issues such as funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education, and more.

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President's Budget Outline Expected in March

The President is expected to release his FY18 budget outline on March 14, with a fully detailed budget expected to come later this spring. Several news outlets have reported that the budget outline will propose  eliminating  funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and several other programs and agencies with the goal of reducing federal spending by trillions over the next decade. 

This is concerning news in the least, but know that the President's budget is just the start of the federal appropriations process. The House and Senate will each conduct budget negotiations, and each must pass its own spending bills and then come to agreement on total federal spending. Once spending bills are agreed upon, they must be signed into law by the President. Your active participation in arts advocacy efforts will be more important than ever this year. 

In FY18, PAA is advocating for these appropriations levels:

  • $155 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

  • $110 million for the Office of Citizen Exchanges

  • $30 million for the Assistance for Arts Education Program

Visit the PAA Arts Advocacy Issue Center for talking points and to send messages to your elected officials.

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Register Now for Arts Advocacy Day!

 

Our democracy is built not just on voting, but on active engagement with your elected officials in Washington. Now is the time to make sure new and returning members of Congress hear how essential the arts and arts education are to your community. The Performing Arts Alliance is a National Partner and plays a key role in revising and updating national policy briefs. Register today for the 30th Annual Arts Advocacy Day and make your voice heard on Capitol Hill. #ArtsAdvocacy http://bit.ly/2gyINPw

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CGC "100 Years of Giving" Capitol Hill Day


From left to right: Richard Foltin, AJC Global Jewish Advocacy; Joel Simon, LifeBridge Health; Dustin Williams, John Hopkins University; Cristine Davis, Perfoming Arts Alliance; Najean Lee, League of American Orchestras

On February 16, PAA joined more than 200 leaders from across the nonprofit sector on Capitol Hill for the Charitable Giving Coalition's "100 Years of Giving" advocacy event. This year marks 100 years of the charitable deduction, an important tax incentive that ensures that our nation's charities-including nonprofit performing arts organizations-are able to receive the funds necessary to fulfill their essential philanthropic missions.

The event focused on educating lawmakers about the need to protect the full scope and value of this giving incentive by describing the impact nonprofit organizations, including the arts, make in their communities with support from private giving. PAA shared with lawmakers examples of the work our members are doing with charitable donations, explaining that on average, nonprofit arts organizations receive 40% of their revenue from charitable donations.

PAA is asking Congress to not only preserve the full scope and value of the charitable deduction but also to expand access to the charitable deduction and to encourage giving by more people as it begins comprehensive tax reform. Learn more about PAA's advocacy for charitable giving in our Arts Advocacy Issue Center.

  
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 PAA Signs Statement on Artist Visas and the Travel Ban

 

PAA has signed on to a joint statement created with other national arts organizations that urges "policy leaders to retain access to artist visas and support opportunities for world-wide cultural exchange." PAA believes that global cultural exchange is important now more than ever, and U.S. nonprofit performing arts organizations boost international diplomacy by collaborating with international guest artists for events, programs, and performances.

The Administration recently announced that it is drafting a new executive order on immigration policy to be issued soon, following court action that suspended implementation of the president's prior executive order. To stay up-to-date on the latest news on the artist visa process, visit www.artistsfromabroad.org.

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Reminder: New USCIS Forms & Filing Fees


Image Credit: Fernando Matias, Flickr

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated several forms and filing fees on December 23, 2016, including the form I-129 for O and P artists visas. As of February 21, 2017, USCIS is no longer accepting previous versions of those forms.

Always visit uscis.gov/forms for free downloads of the latest forms. You can see the complete list of the new fees at uscis.gov/forms/our-fees, and for guidance on the petition process, remember to visit Artists from Abroad.

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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.