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Arts Advocacy

Help Continue the Museums Advocacy Day Drumbeat

Last week 335 museum advocates gathered in Washington, DC for the 10th Annual Museums Advocacy Day! Last week the American Alliance of Museums took Capitol Hill and social media by storm, unveiling new data about museums' economic impact and their deep public support. AAM made visits to 395 congressional offices and heard from a host of bipartisan museum champions serving in the House and Senate about the value of museums and the importance of advocating for them.

Help continue this drumbeat by asking your Representative to sign on to the letter being circulated by U.S. Representatives requesting robust funding in FY 2019 for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This annual letter is a critical gauge of the program's support, and is used when making funding decisions later in the year. The deadline to sign this letter is Thursday, March 8.

WTAW Radio Interview

Chris Dyer, CEO of The Arts Council, discusses possible funding changes for the arts with Bryan Broadcasting's WTAW. How would federal funding changes affect the arts in Brazos Valley? Click to listen!

Charitable Giving Threatened by Tax Reform Bill

Update: The White House released it's proposed 2019 budget on February 12, 2018 calling on Congress to terminate the budgets of the nation's cultural agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the second attempt to eliminate the budgets of these agencies. Now is the time to tell your story that the arts are an investment in our local and national future.

These cuts will deny incentive for people to donate generously to non-profit organizations. Despite the many humanitarian advantages non-profit organizations bring to the community, the financial benefits non-profits include will be drastically affected. Non-profit organizations, and the like, generate millions in revenue and continue to employ many of people. The 2017 study by Texas Cultural Trust showed the arts and culture industries generated $5.5 billion for Texas’ economy in 2016, up from $5.1 billion from 2015. The arts contribute nearly $343.7 million in state sales tax revenue annually and our state's creative sector employs one in 15 Texans – nearly 800,000 innovation workers. But it doesn’t end there. These organizations will only become more important and vital in future years, as Texas creative sector employment is projected to increase by 20% or 160,000 net new jobs by 2024, affecting an even greater portion of society. With the restrictions recently proposed by the Senate Finance Committee, the tax reform bill would dramatically reduce charitable gifts that taxpayers deduct from their tax return by nearly $100 billion. These proposed cuts are threatening the livelihood of these communities and may have tragic outcomes.

Americans for the Arts offer their help in resolving this threat:

“Such proposals are short-sighted and are often made on the basis of false assumptions, helping fuel the deduction as a key topic in tax policy discussions. In President Trump's latest proposal, he indicates support for the charitable deduction, but his outline released in April 2017 is short on further details. Americans for the Arts will oppose policies that remove incentives for charitable giving or limit the full scope and value of the tax deduction—for all forms of charitable gifts (arts, religion, education, environment, etc.). Americans for the Arts has also joined the Giving100 campaign that seeks to allow charitable tax deductions for all Americans, both itemizers and non-itemizers. Read more in our issue statement on our Mobilization Center.”

We urge you to call and ask your Senator to support the Stabenow-Wyden Amendment for a universal charitable deduction, as well as for House representatives, ask your Representative to support the Universal Charitable Giving Act.

For more information on how to help, visit the Americans for the Arts website: www.americansforthearts.org

Together, we can secure a positive future for our community by ensuring charitable giving doesn't end here.


What's Happening?

 National Endowment for the Arts report graphic
National Endowment for the Arts report graphic 
The White House has formally proposed to eliminate budgeting in multiple departments for the arts, humanities, museums, libraries and public broadcasting by allocating the minimal amount "for expenses necessary to carry out their closure." The budget proposal also eliminates important arts education and afterschool grant programs. Those that will no longer be receiving funding starting in the Fiscal Year of 2018 are the Assistance for Arts Education (through the U.S. Department of Education), the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the Office of Museum Services, Save America's Treasures, and the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs with multiple others among them having their budgets drastically reduced. Take action today.

The arts are a vital part of our community. Three reports from the National Endowment for the Arts reveal new findings about the impact of arts and cultural industries on GDP, as well as how and why Americans participate in certain arts activities. The data for the three reports is all from 2012, so for the first time the NEA can show a comprehensive view of a single year in the life of the arts and cultural sector from three different angles: supply, demand, and motivations for consumer behavior.

Texas Cultural Trust - 2017 State of the Arts Report
"The arts now generate $5.5 billion each year for our state's economy—that's how much it takes to run Dallas and San Antonio, two of our state's biggest cities, for a year—and contribute nearly $343.7 million in state sales tax revenue annually."

With the 85th Texas Legislative Session wrap up, "the arts" received tremendously increased visibility. A definitive loss was the cut of the $5 million appropriation to Texas Commission on the Arts' (TCA) Cultural & Fine Arts District grant program. The money that was secured the first time was wisely invested in TCA cultural districts across the state and with studies conducted by the Texas Cultural Trust and TXP inc., the Session started with the assurances that the $5 million would be part of the TCA's base funding, but it never made it into the Senate and House Budget bills SB1 and HB 2. There's a lot of work to be done to prepare for the 86th Legislative Session.

On Saturday, June 17, 2017 Americans for the Arts released Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, our fifth national study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry and is the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted. It documents the economic contributions of the arts in 341 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, in 2015, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences generated $166.3 billion in economic activity, supported 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. Keep up to date with all of the findings, resources and news regarding AEP 5.

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017 the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Committee advanced a bill to provide funding for our nation's natural and cultural resources, proposing $145 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for FY2018. This is a $5 million cut from current levels and $10 million less than the request supported by a record number of membes of Congress this year. The good news is that this proposal counters and fully rejects the Administration's call for termination of our nation's cultural agencies.

On July 18, 2017 the full House Appropriations Committee met and approved funding for the National Endowment for the Arts at $145 million for FY 2018. Although this is a $5 million budget cut from FY 2017, we are encouraged that it is not the termination proposal sought by the Administration since March.

Texas Commission on the Arts

Additionally, the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is facing significant cuts to their budget at the state level. The base budget, approved as part of the Legislative Appropriations Request, shows a $5 million cut in both the Senate (Senate Bill 1) and House (House Bill 1). In addition, the Senate has proposed a cut of $1.4 million from the TCA's Arts Education grant program. Overall, these result in a 34% cut to the agency. The Arts Council, and many other arts organizations in the Brazos Valley, have received funding from the TCA to support valuable performances, exhibits, and programs all over the Brazos Valley. A cut of this magnitude would have devastating effects on the support of the arts and the quality of life they bring to our communities.

How does this affect The Arts Council?

Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) has invested approximately $250,000 in direct support of the arts in our region since 2014. This is significant considering arts resources in the Brazos Valley, especially for those operating in our more rural areas, are scarce. The Arts Council received approximately $70,000 in direct funding support from TCA over this period, all of which was invested directly back into making the arts accessible to everyone in the Brazos Valley. Over the past few years, Arts Council programs have been funded in part by TCA including Art Reaching Teens for Life, Rural Subgrants,Artist Connect, Texas Reds Artist Showcase, and Arts Council general operations.

Arts Council program funded in part by TCA:
Art Reaching Teens (A.R.T.) for Life is an Arts Council program funded by grant money received from Texas Commission on the Arts. In 2008 the Arts Council initiated a partnership with Brazos County, local artists, Brazos County Juvenile Services to give juvenile offenders on probation and incarcerated an opportunity to focus their energy in a positive environment where they would be challenged to work together to complete a piece of public artwork. The primary project goal is to reduce youth recidivism rates in our community. This artist-mentored program teaches students to channel their creativity, develop patience and valuable work skills, work as a team, and gives them a sense of accountability to the community. The program is committed to making greater contributions to the community and high-risk teens’ lives, with a projected 2016-17 cumulative impact of 200 youth.

Call to Action!

Your voice matters. Contact your House and Senate delegations and urge them to oppose the request and provide full funding for the NEA, the NEH, the IMLS, and the CPB. The American Alliance of Museums has created a draft letter for support of the NEA and NEH (http://www.congressweb.com/aam/48). Reach out to your state senators and representatives and encourage them to provide full funding for TCA. If you're uncertain on what exactly to say, you can use a draft letter created by Texas for the Arts to respond to your state representatives.

Additional Information & Resources

Proposed Budget for 2018
Texas for the Arts March Newsletter
American Alliance of Museums Newsletter
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