Early this month, Congress passed a fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill finalizing the federal budget through the rest of FY17, which ends September 30. In an environment where Congress is focused on cutting non-defense discretionary funding, we were pleased to see that increases were recommended for the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of State's exchange programs, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The bill also includes full support for the arts education program at the U.S. Department of Education, and initial funds were provided to support the new well-rounded education grants to schools created in the Every Student Succeeds Act. The president has signed the FY17 spending bill into law, and now it's time to sharpen our focus on FY18 appropriations.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently published this helpful infographic explaining the appropriations process. Currently, the House Budget Committee is writing its FY18 budget resolution, legislation that proposes various budget totals and spending categories for the federal budget. The Senate Budget Committee will do the same. These resolutions inform the appropriators who debate FY18 funding levels for federal agencies and programs. PAA will monitor the appropriations process, keep you updated, and inform you of opportunities to take action and contact Congress.
In the meantime, this is a key time to build and strengthen relationships with members of Congress. This is essential so that they are aware of the work we do in communities. You can find contact information for your lawmakers' local and Capitol Hill offices here: http://bit.ly/2jsHDDb. Try to meet in person when lawmakers 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.
New Rulemaking Process May Undo Net Neutrality
A new rulemaking process initiated by Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to reclassify broadband internet as an information service under "light touch" regulation from the agency. This would undo the 2015 Open Internet Order established under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. This Order classified broadband internet as a telecommunications service to be regulated as a public utility, much like telephone service (more).
New Visa Application Process for Select States
Thinking of engaging foreign guest artists to work in Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina? Check out this update from Artists from Abroad about changes in visa processing, taking effect on May 20:
Beginning May 20, 2017, U.S. petitioners seeking to engage foreign guest artists (using the O or P classification) for work that will be done at a single location in Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina will need to send the form I-129 and related documentation to the California Service Center. After a two-month grace period, USCIS will reject forms sent to the wrong service center (more).
New Arts Resource: Performing Arts Readiness Project
The Performing Arts Alliance recently joined the national steering committee of the Performing Arts Readiness (PAR) project, an initiative supporting a variety of programs to increase the knowledge and ability of performing arts organizations to create and execute emergency recovery plans. This month, the project launched its website: performingartsreadiness.org.
The PAR project was created to address the vulnerability of performing arts organizations to emergencies and disasters that can damage business operations and artistic legacies. Activities will include free webinars and in-person trainings, conference presentations, grants, and tools to help build the field's capacity for disaster preparedness. The new website will provide updates as resources and activities are available. Sign up to receive future announcements about the project at performingartsreadiness.org/mailing-list.
The PAR project is supported by a three-year, $2,500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is being administered by lead partner LYRASIS, a leading member-based nonprofit organization serving libraries, archives, and museums.