August 3, 2017

Updates on FY18 Federal Appropriations

The month of July saw a lot of budget activity as the the full House Appropriations Committee passed several bills that would set funding levels for arts and culture programs and agencies in FY18. Here is a recap:

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill:

  • National Endowment for the Arts: $145 million. This would be a $5 million cut from the agency's current budget and $10 million less than what arts advocates are seeking. The National Endowment for the Humanities received the same recommendation.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill:

  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants: $500 million. These grants support learning in well-rounded subjects including the arts. This would be a $100 million increase over FY17 funding, however this amount is far below the authorized level of $1.67 billion.

  • Arts in Education (AIE) grant program: $0. Appropriators recommended program consolidation, stating that "States and school districts may use funds from the SSAE grants to support arts education." This is disappointing news; the program is currently funded at $27 million, and arts advocates have been fighting to keep AIE a stand-alone grant program funded at $30 million. 

  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers: $1 billion. This would be a $191.67 million cut from FY17 funding.

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Bill                        

  • Citizen Exchange Program: $111.36 million. This program includes cultural exchanges that send U.S. artists abroad. The committee recommendation is equal to the program's FY17 budget.

The House's proposed budget cuts and program consolidations are upsetting even though appropriators did not follow the President's budget request across the board to eliminate arts and culture programs. The appropriations process is not over yet: all House members need to vote on each spending bill, and Senate appropriators need to debate their spending bills as well.

Both the House and Senate are headed into August recess; set up a meeting with your legislators! We encourage you to thank them for supporting the arts thus far and ask for continued support as appropriations continue. Make your voices heard and join us in advocating for:

  • $155 million for the NEA
  • $30 million for Arts in Education
  • Full funding of the SSAE grant program
  • No less than FY17 funding for the State Dept.'s Cultural Exchanges

Visit the PAA advocacy toolkit for tips on meeting with your legislators or for locating their local offices.

             FCC to Consider Interference Protection for Performing Arts Wireless Mics

At its July 13 open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to revise and clarify its rules for wireless microphone operations in the TV broadcast spectrum.  The agency's action proposes permitting "certain qualifying professional theatre, music, performing arts organizations, and similar organizations" to obtain Part 74 licenses that would allow them to register their frequencies in a database that would provide interference protection.

Previously, in August 2015, the FCC ruled that only entities using 50 or more microphones or wireless devices could be licensed to register for interference protection. That threshold excluded most nonprofit performing arts organizations. This new proposal could open the door for entities using less than 50 microphones to obtain a license, provided that applicants demonstrate "need and requisite professional ability" to operate in the bands where they would register their frequency.  Once the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is published in the Federal Register with deadlines, PAA and its Member Organizations will seek comments from the field. Please stay tuned for action needed soon! You can read the full announcement about the FCC's proposal here on its website.  

Artists' O and P Visas Exempt from Travel Ban Restrictions

In late June, the Department of State announced that nonimmigrant visas, such as the O and P visas used by artists, are inherently exempt from the restrictions of the Administration's travel ban which bars people entering the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.

The State Department announcement follows the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 decision to lift a lower court's injunction on the ban. In this decision, the Court stated that individuals accepting a job offer from an American company may be considered to have a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" and, thus, not be subject to the travel restrictions. The final decision for visa approvals rests with consular officials. You can find the State Department's announcement and learn more about the exemption of O and P artist visas on Artist from Abroad.

Upcoming NEA Grant Deadlines

Applying for an NEA grant? Mark your calendars for these important dates:
  • August 3: extended Art Works Applicant Portal deadline
  • September 11: Our Town
  • October 10: Research: Art Works
Visit the NEA's Grants for Organizations page for more information about each grant program and application instructions.
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.