Important Year End Congressional Updates that effect the Arts

by The Performing Arts Alliance
the Coalition of Performing Arts Advocates

Year-End Congressional Update 

In the last days of 2011, issues important to the nonprofit performing arts community may see movement in Washington, DC, including funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education. Congressional action on charitable giving incentives, including the IRA Charitable Rollover, will likely be pushed to early 2012.

Appropriations Update – NEA and Arts in Education
Congress has yet to finalize the FY12 Interior Appropriations or Labor Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bills, the measures that fund the NEA and the Arts in Education program. Discussions have continued on passage of either a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for the bills or their inclusion in a year-end omnibus spending package. The federal government is currently funded by a CR through December 16, so Congress will need to act quickly to keep the government running. The most current information points to the passage of additional CRs for the bills. As a reminder, the final FY11 funding bills included $155 million for the NEA and $27.5 million for the Arts in Education program fund.

IRA Charitable Rollover
In early 2012, Congress will likely move forward on a larger tax extenders package, including an extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover provision. The provision is currently in effect through 2011, so Congress must act to renew or make permanent the incentive soon. The IRA Rollover allows donors 70 1/2 and older to make up to $100,000 in charitable contributions directly from their individual retirement accounts (IRA), without paying federal taxes on the withdrawal. This has proven to be an important giving incentive, resulting in new and increased charitable giving to nonprofit performing arts organizations and the full range of nonprofits.

Charitable Deduction
The charitable deduction for contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations will continue to be at risk in 2012. Following the failure of the Congressional Super Committee to reach agreement on recommendations for dealing with the deficit, proposals to curtail federal tax incentives for charitable giving will likely remain on the table as the tax committees in Congress determine next steps for increasing federal revenue. Charitable giving incentives are critical to the health of nonprofit organizations, including the nonprofit arts, and support the valuable community services provided by the full range of nonprofit organizations. It is critical they are preserved.


  • State Department Nomination: On November 4, President Obama nominated Tara D. Sonenshine to be the new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Ms. Sonenshine would oversee the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Ann Stock, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is the acting Secretary.
  • National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards: In late November, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, announced application details for the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. The twelve program applicants selected will receive $10,000 and an invitation to accept their award from President’s Committee Honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama at a ceremony at the White House. Click here for further details on the program.
  • Nonprofit Postal Rates: The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee recently approved legislation to reform the U.S. Postal Service. Unlike a companion bill making its way through the House of Representatives, the Senate bill preserves the nonprofit postage discount rate. The track of these bills is uncertain at this time, as neither is currently slated for floor consideration.


NEA Ceases Consortium Grants for FY13
Due to budgetary constraints, the NEA will not be awarding consortium grants beginning with the FY13 application process. This means that applicants planning grant submissions to the NEA for FY13 should prepare with the understanding that they can make one and only one application from the NEA: either in the Art Works or Challenge America categories. Previously, organizations could apply up to two times – once on their own, and a second time in partnership with other organizations. The FY13 grant guidelines will be available in January 2012. Two changes going forward will be the consolidation of Theater and Musical Theater into a single category, and the incorporation of the Arts in Media program into the existing Art Works: Media Arts category. It should be noted that this latter change means that media applications will be subject to the one-application-per-year rule that applies to all applicants.

The sole exception to the one-application limit will be for parent organizations that have separately identifiable and independent components and are submitting a second application in connection with that component organization. Guidance on FY13 grants should be available in January, but to learn more about the current FY12 independent component policy for parent (and related) organizations, please visit the NEA’s website.

FY13 Grants for Arts Projects Deadlines:

  • Art Works, Part 1: March 8, 2012
  • Art Works, Part 2: August 9, 2012
  • Challenge America Fast-Track: May 24, 2012

State Department Launches Cultural Crossroads
The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has launched Cultural Crossroads, an online network that will provide arts practitioners and managers a venue for sharing information about cultural diplomacy and international cultural exchange.

Through this discussion forum, ECA hopes to improve support for arts-based exchange programs and grow an international network of artists. Now in its soft launch phase, ECA invites stakeholders to join initial efforts to shape this new online community so it becomes a valuable resource for artists and artistic collaborators.

Please visit to explore and add your voice to the beta version of this promising new effort!

Mark Your Calendar for Arts Advocacy Day: April 16-17, 2012
Arts Advocacy Day 2012 begins Monday, April 16 in Washington, DC. In its 25th year, this annual gathering is an opportunity for the arts community to make its voice heard on Capitol Hill. Arts advocates from across the country will meet with their Senators and Representatives to communicate the importance of federal arts funding and implementing policies that support the arts. Please click here for details on Arts Advocacy 2012 and to register for this important advocacy opportunity!

If you are unable to travel to Washington, DC you can still participate by calling, writing, or visiting your Congressional offices on Arts Advocacy Day.

About Steven Weisz

A Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with advanced degrees in Psychology and Education is an entrepreneur and CEO for several for-profits and non-profit corporations in the region. He is also an adjunct professor of Psychology with several local Universities.

Steven is currently the CEO of Delaware Valley on Line, one of the first regional Internet Service Provides that now focuses on business-class web hosting, design, and internet marketing. He is president and founder of Rainbow Promotions Inc., a special events and entertainment agency established in the late 70’s, that services corporate and retail accounts both locally and nationally.

Steven is the Founder of, the largest web presence and resource for the dance community in the greater Philadelphia region, and the Founder and Editor of The Dance Journal. His involvement in the dance community extends to being Director of Graffito Works, an international platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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1 Comment

  1. December 16, 2011
    Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final budget agreement for FY 2012, which includes $146.255 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This is identical to President Obama’s proposed budget, a cut of nearly $9 million less than FY 2011, and is a compromise between the House of Representatives number of $135 million and the Senate number of $155 million as previously considered by their respective subcommittees. Also included in this bill is $24.596 million in funding for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, which had been zeroed-out in a previous proposal in the House.

    A short term continuing resolution was also passed today so that the Senate can complete work on the budget agreement over the weekend. Once passed, it will be ready for the president to sign into law. This concludes the prolonged Congressional negotiations for the FY 2012 budget and prevents a government shutdown. After the New Year, Congress will begin considering the FY 2013 budget.

    Your voices will be more important than ever to preserve funding.

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