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Check this page regularly for calls to action and developments in advocacy for folk and traditional arts in New York State and at the national level.

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Advocacy Action Alerts

Please let us know if you have information you’d like us to share in this space.

Having a real effect upon the legislation and public policies that are impacting traditional cultures in America will require our stepping up to the plate early and educating ourselves on how to fight politically--Peggy A. Bulger

New York Council for the Humanities announces
Advocacy Action: Why We Need State Funding For NY Women’s Suffrage Centennial.

February 8, 2016

We need your help. Last week in Albany, we met with Representatives from the Assembly and Senate to show the wonderful work you’re doing for NYS cultural communities. We spoke about the New York Council for the Humanities grants and programs, and the opportunities and challenges facing cultural groups that serve our communities. The New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial is one of these opportunities for us to unite our stories, strengthen our sector, and begin a statewide conversation about the legacy of suffrage today.

Tell your NY Women’s Suffrage Centennial Story today. Adding your letters will show how history and the humanities have the power to impact communities statewide. Help us show why state funding is essential and vital in order for New York to have a proper centennial celebration.

Send a letter to your state legislators telling them why the women’s suffrage centennial celebration is important to you.

Learn more about our partners and work with the centennial celebration.

WESPAC Foundation announces
Responding Locally to the Refugee Crisis

Refugees: A Call to Action by the Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley Community .

As the tides of refugees from war in the Middle East literally wash ashore in Europe, we are witness to human tragedy of unfathomable proportions. In a world where governments wage wars that result in the displacement of tens of millions of people, we as human beings face a responsibility and a real opportunity to do the right thing. We welcome the tired, the poor the hungry and endangered to our country and community. We cannot be witness and not take action. All around the country, municipalities and local communities are calling for the United States of America to open wide the doors to the refugees, and are ready to welcome refugee families into their communities. We in the Westchester, Rockland and Hudson Valley Community join in the call for action to save and welcome refugees as follows:

• Ask our Senators and Congresspeople to advocate for the prompt resettlement in the US of a substantial number of refugees;

• Ask our county legislators to endorse the effort and provide the community support needed;

• Ask our local municipalities to endorse the effort and coordinate to assist in the hosting, housing and absorption of families;

• Bring together both community and faith-based groups to provide community support and participate in resettlement efforts;

We make this call based on the firm conviction that all people — regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or legal status — deserve to live in freedom and safety.

We, the undersigned organizations, commit to advocate energetically for opening our doors to refugees to share the message above broadly. We will invite our constituents and our partners to join us in taking direct action to support refugees who arrive in the lower Hudson Valley.

For further information or to add your organization to this call, please contact Andrew Courtney at 914-271-8633 or email at courtney6@optonline.net with your organization’s name, the contact person, email and phone number.

[List in formation]
Bart Worden, Leader, The Ethical Culture Society of Westchester. White Plains, NY
Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice, Stony Point, NY
Creative Response to Conflict, Rockland County, NY
Connie Hogarth Center For Social Action, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, Rockland County, NY
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, Sparkill, NY
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Nyack, NY
First Presbyterian Church, Katonah, NY
International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation, Mt. Vernon, NY
Jean Fallon for Maryknoll Sisters, Ossining, NY
Jerrahi Mosque, Chestnut Ridge, NY
Jewish Voice for Peace, Westchester, NY
Rev. Karen Eiler for the Memorial United Methodist Church, White Plains, NY
Katonah United Methodist Church, Katonah, NY
Mental Health Association of Westchester County, Tarrytown, NY
Muslim Peace Fellowship, Stony Point, NY
New Rochelle High School Human Rights Coalition, New Rochelle, NY
Pace Community Law Practice, White Plains, NY
Rabbi Jonathan Blake, Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY
Rabbi Scott Weiner, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel, New Rochelle, NY
Rabbi Tom Weiner, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains, NY
Rockland for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, Nyack, NY
School Sisters of Notre Dame AM Province, Wilton, CT
Temple Israel of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY
The Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center, Stony Point, NY
The Church in the Highlands, White Plains, NY
The Duchesne Center for Religion and Social Justice, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
The Immigration Justice Clinic of John Jay Legal Services Inc. at Pace University School of Law, White Plains, NY
Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia
WESPAC Foundation, White Plains, NY
Westchester For Change, Susan Van Dolsen Co-Founder, Rye, NY
Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Nonviolence, White Plains, NY
Whole Woman Healing. Director, Joan Whiticare, Rockland County, NY
Woodlands Community Temple, Rabbi Billy Dreskin, Greenburgh, NY

New York Council for the Humanities announces
Take Action for NY Women’s Suffrage Centennial!

Help Us Start the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission . In 2017, it will be 100 years since New York State signed woman suffrage into law, three years before the US passed the 19th Amendment. Don’t let 2017 pass us by leaving yet another anniversary unfunded by the State. Instead, let us seize the opportunity to celebrate grandly, with robust opportunities for heritage tourism, education, and community conversations all across our state. The New York Council for the Humanities, a trusted provider of grants and services for the state’s cultural sector, stands ready to launch NY’s commemoration.

Urge Governor Cuomo to Take Action. A bill establishing a Commission passed unanimously by both the NYS Assembly and Senate (AB 1019/SB 2388). It’s time for the Governor to make it law! We are so close—join us in urging Governor Cuomo to sign the bill today.

Here are ways you can help:

*Urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law:
Sign the petition
Write an electronic letter
—Call the Governor’s Office: 1-518-474-8390
Tweet him @NYGovCuomo

Help us spread the word via social media using #NY4Suffrage

Donate $10+ to the Council to help our initiatives in giving the Centennial a proper celebration

The Women’s Rights Movement Legacy: 1917–2017 . New York State was home to the leaders of the movement as well as many lesser-known figures whose stories deserve to be told too. From Seneca Falls and the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester to countless heritage sites across the state, let’s celebrate our state and nation’s legacy of women’s rights and progress! To learn more, visit our dedicated website.

Thank you for your support.

With gratitude,
Sara Ogger
Executive Director
New York Council for the Humanities

New York Multi-Arts Centers Consortium (NYMACC) announces
Fall Arts Conference | October 27–29, 2015 | The Egg, Albany

NYMACC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening multi-arts centers across the state. Working with our partners, NYS Presenters Network and Arts NYS, we hope to make the Fall Arts Conference a destination for a broad range of arts providers including multi-arts centers, arts councils, DEC sites, presenters, arts advocates and more.

The conference will be valuable to staff, board members and volunteers, and organizations new and experienced, as well as a fabulous opportunity to network with your peers across the state and learn from their collective experience!

We are looking for sessions, workshops, panelists, speakers, activities and ideas for programs to be offered at the Fall Conference. Do you have a success story or failure you’d like to share? Do you know a great speaker? Is there a panel of experts that could help you become a better arts organization?

For more information and a Session Proposal Form, visit the website. The deadline for proposals is Friday, September 11, 2015. We are looking forward to heard from you, our members and colleagues, and thank you for your contributions to our field!

The New York Folklore Society will be at Arts Advocacy Day, 2014
February 25, 2014

Hosted by Americans for the Arts and co-sponsored by 85+ national arts organizations, National Arts Advocacy Day is the largest gathering of its kind, bringing together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations. Grassroots advocates from across the country come to Washington DC to meet with their members of Congress in support of issues like arts education policy, the charitable tax deduction, and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

This year, Arts Advocacy Day will be March 25, 2014. Plan to join the New York Delegation, led by Ellen McHale of the New York Folklore Society and Melanie Cohn of Staten Island Arts.

March 20, 2014

From Staten Island Arts and The Center for Arts Education

Last week, the Governor proposed a budget for the arts—which is $20 million less than what it was 25 years ago. With less than two weeks before the budget deadline, it is critical that we send a strong message to the state legislature now about the importance of arts and culture to our communities’ vitality.

The Center for Arts Education has generated 250 emails and faxes to Albany already. Help them reach 500!

At the proposed funding level our museums, performance spaces, and emerging artists across New York will not receive the funding they need to provide the invaluable arts experiences and educational enrichment our school children and families deserve.

Please join us in this effort by sending a quick email to your state senator and assembly member asking for a $3.6 million increase in the NYSCA grants budget to support arts and culture statewide.

Thank you for your support.

Join Arts Advocates from across the Country in Washington, DC for the 27th Annual Arts Advocacy Day!
January 28, 2014

From Arts Action Fund

Between tax reform, budget battles, and education reauthorization, we need your support! Come to Washington, DC for the 27th annual Arts Advocacy Day on March 24-25, 2014 and make your voice heard!
* Strategize with experienced advocates during an interactive role play session on how to make the case for the arts and arts education to your members of Congress.

* Network with your fellow arts advocates from across the country and go on congressional visits led by State Captains.

* Learn the latest research facts and figures on the arts to help make your case.

For more information and to reserve your two free Hanks Lecture tickets, please visit www.americansforthearts.org/aad

Thousands of Advocates Oppose 49 Percent Funding Cut for NEA
January 28, 2014

From Arts Action Fund

By large margins, Congress passed omnibus legislation in January that restored funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to $146 million, bringing a welcomed conclusion to a lengthy appropriations process that included considerable attack on funding for the arts in America. This summer, GOP leaders in the House proposed slashing the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) budget by 49 percent, which would result in a $71 million cut. In early September, the Arts Action Fund launched an online petition opposing these drastic funding cuts to the NEA. The government shutdown in October stalled negotiations of next year’s budget (FY 2014), enabling the petition to continue to gain momentum and support across the country. Mobilizing citizens from all 50 states and 435 congressional districts, each signatory’s voice was heard on Capitol Hill as petitions were directly presented to individual representatives in both chambers, influencing year-end budget negotiations. Since 1965, the NEA has been integral in broadening Americans' access to the arts, strengthening communities, and fuelling creativity. In addition to directly funding arts initiatives, on average NEA grants leverage 9 to 1 in additional financial support for the arts. Consequently, these cuts are particularly harmful when paired with the resulting loss of $639 million in possible matching grants. This petition was not only the Arts Action Fund’s most successful campaign to date, but resonated with citizens from coast to coast.

House Subcommittee Proposes 49% Cut to NEH!
July 26, 2013

From New York Council for the Humanities

Have 2 minutes? Write to Your Legislator Today!

The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee sent a bill for FY 2014 funding to the full Appropriations Committee that includes only $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a drastic 49 percent cut for the agency. This bill threatens the viability of the 56 state and territorial humanities councils, including the New York Council for the Humanities, which receive significant funding from the NEH. Before the full Appropriations Committee votes on the bill, I urge you to contact the Committee members and voice your opposition to cuts that would halve the NEH, devastate the state humanities councils, and force the elimination of programs in thousands of communities across the nation.

Support the Humanities: Write Today!

The NEH supports the state humanities councils primarily through the Federal/State Partnership (FSP), which is currently funded at $38 million — a significant cut from the $47 million the councils received in FY 2010 through FSP and We the People funding. The Subcommittee’s severe cuts would compromise the councils' ability to deliver programs to communities throughout their states and support their more than 10,000 local partner organizations. The councils are non-profit organizations, delivering programs in rural areas and inner cities, often to groups that would otherwise not have access to such resources. Although councils raise funds from corporations, foundations, state governments, and individuals, federal funding is key to attracting these other kinds of support. More about the New York Council for the Humanities

We urge you to contact your colleagues on the full Appropriations Committee today and encourage them to oppose the steep cuts to the NEH — and preserve the state councils’ valuable programs and services in our communities — by rejecting the Subcommittee’s bill.

Thank you for your support!

State Legislature Renews Support for the Humanities
April 10, 2013

From New York Council for the Humanities

Last year, the New York State Legislature designated $450,000 to the New York Council for the Humanities in support of robust public humanities activities throughout NYS. We’re thrilled to report that the budget agreement passed last month renews that support for 2013–2014! We anticipate that these funds will reach us in Spring 2014, helping us to serve a million New Yorkers every year with urgently needed cultural offerings. You can use our simple online tool to thank your state legislators for doing the right thing once again.

March 25, 2013

From Americans for the Arts

We urge Congress:
To support a budget of $155 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill to preserve citizen access to the cultural, educational, and economic benefits of the arts and to advance creativity and innovation in communities across the United States.

The NEA budget has been reduced in previous years to a level that threatens the agency’s ability to make grants in every congressional district.
  • Due to recent congressional budget cuts, the NEA had to decrease funding to state arts agencies and cut more than 175 direct grants to arts organizations.

  • Restoring the NEA to $155 million will help maintain grant support to arts organizations and partnerships in communities across the country.
The NEA contributes to the economic growth and development of communities nationwide.
  • The arts put people to work. More than 905,000 U.S. businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, employing 3.35 million people: visual artists, performing artists, managers, marketers, technicians, teachers, designers, carpenters, and a variety of other trades and professions—jobs that pay mortgages and send children to college. Artists are a larger workforce group than the legal profession, medical doctors, or agricultural workers. (Sources: Americans for the Arts, Creative Industries, 2012; NEA, Artists in the Workforce, 2008).
  • The arts are a business magnet. A strong arts sector stimulates business activity, attracting companies that want to offer employees and clients a creative climate and a community with high amenity value. The arts are a successful strategy for revitalizing rural areas and inner cities. Arts organizations purchase goods and services that help local merchants thrive. Arts organizations spend money—more than $61 billion—on salaries, local products, and professional and skilled trade services that boost local economies. (Source: Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV (AEPIV) study, 2012). In 2013, the American creative sector will be measured by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The BEA and the NEA will develop an “Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account” which will identify and calculate the arts and culture sector's contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The arts help communities prosper in a diversified 21st-century economy. Nonprofit arts organizations, along with creative enterprises, contribute to state and local economies, generating employment and tax revenues and providing goods and services demanded by the public. The nonprofit arts industry generates $135.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 4.13 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $9.59 billion in federal income taxes. (Source: AEPIV study).
  • The arts attract tourism revenue. Cultural tourism accounts for 78 percent of U.S. travelers—some 118 million tourists—who include arts and heritage in their trips each year. They stay longer and spend 36 percent more money than other kinds of travelers do, contributing more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy. (Source: U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, U.S. Department of Commerce, Cultural and Heritage Traveler Research, 2009.)
  • Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients—a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least $8 from other state, local, and private sources. Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.>
The NEA improves access to the arts; supports artistic excellence; and fosters lifelong learning in the arts through grants, partnerships, research, and national initiatives.
  • NEA funds spread across the country and expand arts access. Every U.S. congressional district benefits from an NEA grant, leveraging additional support from a diverse range of private sources to combine funding from government, business, foundation, and individual donors. The NEA awarded more than 2,200 grants in 2012, totaling more than $108 million in appropriated funds. A listing of these grants is online at www.AmericansForTheArts.org/go/NEAgrants.
  • State arts agencies extend the reach of federal arts dollars. Forty percent of all NEA program funds—approximately $46 million in FY 2013—are re-granted through state arts agencies. In partnership with the NEA, state arts agencies awarded more than 22,000 grants to organizations, schools, and artists in 5,000 communities across the United States. (Source: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Summary Report: 2011 Funding and Grant Making, 2011)
  • NEA grants support a range of educational projects. Arts education in school and participation in arts lessons are the most significant predictors of arts participation later in life. The NEA funds school- and community-based programs that help children and youth acquire knowledge and skills in the arts. The NEA also supports educational programs for adults, collaborations between state arts agencies and state education agencies, and partnerships between arts institutions and K-12 and college/university educators. (Source: NEA, Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation, 2011)
  • Rural and underserved communities benefit from the Challenge America Fast-Track category which offers support to small and midsized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. The Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra in Lawton, OK for instance, received funding for an original work paying tribute to Native American themes in a concert that drew 250 Native American guests from the surrounding tribal nations.
  • The NEA has supported military families by partnering with Blue Star Families to present Blue Star Museums, offering free admission to active-duty military and their families, and a similar effort to launch Blue Star Theatres. Other NEA programs for the military have included Operation Homecoming; Great American Voices Military Base Tour; and Shakespeare in American Communities Military Base Tour.
  • When public arts funding is lost, private dollars do not reliably pick up the slack. Tough economic conditions mean less revenue from public, private, and corporate sources. Loss of support to arts organizations across the country during the recent recession has meant cuts in administrative costs and cuts to programs. Programs for lower—income populations and at—risk children are typically hit hard because a larger majority of their funding comes from public sources.

America’s arts infrastructure, supported by a combination of government, business, foundation, and individual donors, is critical to the nation’s well-being and economic vitality. In a striking example of federal/state partnership, the NEA distributes 40 percent of its program dollars to state arts agencies, with each state devoting its own appropriated funds to support arts programs throughout the state. This partnership ensures that each state has a stable source of arts funding and policy. These grants, combined with state legislative appropriations and other dollars, are distributed widely to strengthen arts infrastructures and ensure broad access to the arts.

For close to 50 years, the NEA has provided strategic leadership and investment in the arts through its core programs, including those for dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other programs. Among the proudest accomplishments of the NEA is the growth of arts activity in areas of the nation that were previously underserved or not served at all, especially in rural and inner-city communities. Americans can now see professional productions and exhibitions of high quality in their own hometowns.

As of this publishing, the FY 2013 NEA appropriation remains under a Continuing Resolution at a level of $146 million despite the President requesting an increase to $154.3 million and the Senate Appropriations Committee proposing an equal amount. The Administration’s FY 2014 budget hasn’t yet been released. However, funding the NEA at the level requested by the nonprofit arts community of $155 million would provide support to a healthy nonprofit arts sector in communities nationwide. Current funding amounts to just 47 cents per capita, as compared to 70 cents per capita in 1992.

March 25, 2013

From Americans for the Arts

We urge Congress:

  • Preserve incentives for charitable giving by protecting the charitable tax deduction from rate caps or other new limitations.
  • Reject any attempts to divide the charitable sector which would create a hierarchy of tax deductibility favoring certain types of charities over others.
  • Extend the IRA Charitable Rollover.
  • Nonprofit arts organizations serve the needs of people and community partners through education, artistry, economic development, and social service programs serving the poor. Support from donors across the economic spectrum is essential to making this work possible. The arts communicate across religious, ethnic, and political divides, both at home and abroad; explore civic issues, both current and past; create human and social services programs focusing on healthcare, addiction, senior services, and many other areas; provide in-school and afterschool programs for children and teachers, as well as lifelong learning for all; preserve our heritage and make it accessible to all who wish to participate; create jobs and economic growth; and add immeasurably to the quality of life in our communities through vibrant artistry.
  • Unlike other tax deductions, charitable giving incentives do not enrich individual donors: they are an investment in the public good. Preserving tax incentives for charitable giving will expand nonprofit services and provide a net benefit to the public. For every $1 dollar in deductions claimed, charities receive $3 to provide necessary services. As all charities struggle to meet increased demands for their services, we need to encourage all individuals—regardless of income and wealth—to give more to nonprofit organizations.
  • Diminishing charitable giving incentives will have lasting, harmful consequences for nonprofit services and jobs. Charitable giving is a significant revenue source for a broad range of nonprofit organizations, which cannot withstand even slight declines in contributions given the fragility of all revenue sources. Ticket sales and admission fees alone do not come close to subsidizing the artistic presentations, educational offerings, and community-based programming of nonprofit arts organizations. For example, approximately 40 percent of financial support for nonprofit performing arts organizations is derived from charitable giving. Without this support, public access to the high quality arts programming would be greatly diminished.
  • Proposed changes to the charitable tax deduction will reduce giving. While the initial charitable impulse to give often comes “from the heart,” history has shown that donors do respond to tax law changes by altering what, when, and how much they give. Limiting the value of the charitable deduction could fundamentally change a tax structure that has established a tradition of charitable giving unmatched in the world.
  • The public supports the charitable deduction. A 2012 public opinion poll commissioned by the United Way found that most Americans (79 percent) believe reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would have a negative impact on charities and the people they serve. Of those who indicate they would reduce charitable giving, the majority (62 percent) indicate they would have to reduce their contributions by a significant amount—by 25 percent or more. Two out of every three Americans (67 percent) are opposed to reducing the charitable tax deduction.
  • A Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 18, 2011, included a highly supportive discussion of the value of the arts as part of the nonprofit community. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) initiated the dialogue with witnesses by asking them to comment on the benefits of contributions to nonprofit arts organizations. The dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary made a particularly compelling statement: “This isn't simply about economic impact. It has to do with what it means to form a citizenry that understands what persons are for, that we’re not simply economic units. Giving to the arts, giving to religious organizations, giving to charitable organizations really can serve as a workshop of compassion in demonstrating to our fellow citizens that this is not simply a matter of raw power; that we have obligations to one another, not simply at the bureaucratic level of government, but as members of civil society.”

There are approximately 1.4 million nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, including arts organizations, hospitals, private schools and institutions of higher education, religious congregations, public television and radio stations, soup kitchens, and foundations. They also contribute $1.1 trillion in human services every year and support 13.5 million jobs. In recognition of their benefit to the public good, contributions made to 501(c)(3) nonprofits have been tax-deductible since 1917.

As the momentum for tax reform increases and the federal deficit mounts, there have been proposals to curtail or eliminate the income tax deduction for gifts to 501(c)(3) organizations, including the nonprofit arts, in order to increase revenue for the federal government. Such proposals are short-sighted and are often made on the basis of false assumptions. Congress should fully understand the impact of proposed tax reform on incentives for charitable giving and should protect the charitable giving that supports the valuable community services provided by the nonprofit arts sector.

The deduction remains a key topic in all tax policy discussions. A February 2013 House Ways and Means hearing examined recent attempts to make changes to the deduction in the wake of the recent fiscal cliff negotiations and in preparation for possible comprehensive tax reform. The hearing highlighted broad agreement in support of charities but also underscored some disagreement on whether the current charitable donation structure best supports the nonprofit sector. The committee also created 11 tax reform working groups. The working group on Charitable/Exempt Organizations is chaired by Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and John Lewis (D-GA) and will be tasked to inform potential policy changes in preparation of a new Joint Committee on Taxation report.

  • President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal sought to decouple the value of tax deductions from income tax rates—capping all deductions, including the charitable deduction, at 28 percent for individual taxpayers earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000. Congress has previously rejected identical proposals from the administration, and key tax policymakers have objected to the negative impact the proposal would have on charitable contributions. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed in January 2013 did not include a flat percentage or dollar cap on charitable giving incentives as had been feared in the final weeks of 2012. It does, however, reinstate the so-called “Pease” limitation which lowers the value of all itemized deductions based on income above the thresholds of families earning more than $300,000 per year ($250,000 for individuals). Pease took effect in 1991 as a federal revenue generator, but was gradually phased out in the 2006–2010 tax years as part of a larger effort at tax simplification. Congress should consider exempting the charitable deduction and other caps and limitations under consideration from the Pease provision. In the past two years, more than a dozen potential changes to deductibility of giving have been on the table.
  • The co-chairs of the Presidential Advisory Commission on the Deficit suggested either eliminating the charitable deduction or imposing a floor of 2 percent of adjusted gross income. Another plan would limit the amount taxes could be reduced by all deductions to 2 percent of adjusted gross income. At the end of 2012, a dollar cap on the deductibility was under consideration. Any of these changes could lead to decreased giving.
  • Some have suggested that gifts to education, research, cause-related organizations, (e.g., the environment, animal welfare, etc.) and the arts should receive different treatment than do gifts to human services. Setting a hierarchy of charitable causes is detrimental and discriminatory to the arts and many others in the nonprofit sector. “The current tax deduction for charitable giving should either be preserved or modified only in ways that will: strengthen incentives to give; respect the freedom of individuals to determine the causes and organizations they participate in and support, and treat those choices equitably; and encourage all individuals to give more to communities and causes through charitable organizations.” (Independent Sector, 2012.) Since 1917, the nonprofit arts have expressly been eligible for the charitable deduction, in keeping with this nation’s strong tradition of incentivizing taxpayers to give to causes that they most believe will benefit the public good.

The IRA Charitable Rollover provision, extended through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, permits donors age 70-1/2 and older to make tax-free charitable gifts directly from their IRAs, up to an annual ceiling of $100,000. Since its enactment, it has spurred millions of dollars in new and increased charitable gifts, but is once again set to expire at the end of 2013. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal supports extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover. Without the IRA Rollover provision, individuals who make charitable gifts from their retirement accounts must withdraw funds and treat them as taxable income, reducing the amount available for donation to charity. Congress will be considering proposals to make the IRA Rollover permanent, lift the $100,000 limit, and reduce the age of eligibility to 59-1/2.

March 25, 2013

From Americans for the Arts

We urge Congress:

  • Enact the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, which will require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reduce the total processing time for petitions filed by, or on behalf of, nonprofit arts-related organizations.
  • We further call on Congress and the administration to persuade USCIS to take ongoing immediate administrative action to improve the artist visa process.
  • Immediate assistance is needed to improve the artist visa process. Passage of the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act would ensure USCIS action. The proposed timeframe for processing O and P visas—the categories used by artists—is eminently reasonable and consistent with security concerns. Congress recognized the time-sensitive nature of arts events when writing the 1991 federal law regarding O and P visas, in which the USCIS is instructed to process O and P arts visas in 14 days. Although USCIS has made efforts in recent years to observe this timeframe, the mandate has not been consistently implemented and the agency can, under its current authority, make other immediate changes to remedy delays, cost, and uncertainty, such as improving the accuracy of the petition process.
  • The inconsistency of the U.S. visa process for foreign artists has extremely harmful results.

    • When foreign artists are unable to come to the United States, the American public is denied the opportunity to experience international artistry. Performances and other cultural events are date-, time-, and location-specific. The nature of scheduling, booking, and confirming highly sought after guest soloists and performing groups requires that the timing of the visa process be efficient and reliable.
    • The absence of international guest artists costs American artists important employment opportunities. If an international guest artist cannot obtain a visa in time to make a scheduled performance, then the many American artists who were scheduled to work alongside the guest artist may lose a valuable and much-needed source of income and exposure.
    • Delays and unpredictability in the visa process create high economic risks for nonprofit arts institutions and the local economies they support. Nonprofit arts groups must sell tickets in advance, creating a financial obligation to their audiences. Regular visa processing can take too long for arts organizations to accommodate, directly impacting their bottom line.

  • The ARTS Act has strong, bipartisan support and has been found by the by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to come at no cost to the federal government. Key House and Senate Judiciary Committee members have signaled bipartisan support for improving the artist visa process, and a provision was included in the 2006 and 2007 comprehensive Senate immigration reform bills. The full House approved a stand-alone version of the measure, H.R. 1312, in April 2008, the bill was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in 2009, and was reintroduced in 2011. On November 7, 2007, the Congressional Budget Office issued a cost estimate for the ARTS Act, stating that the bill would have no significant cost to the federal government.
  • Nonprofit arts organizations of all sizes cannot afford the $1,225 premium processing fee, leaving them to await the unpredictability of regular visa processing. Nonprofit arts organizations from all regions of the country and in communities of all sizes engage foreign guest artists. The premium processing fee reduces the amount of money available for a production/performance and represents a significant portion of an organization’s operating budget and costs.
  • Global cultural exchange is important now more than ever. American nonprofit arts organizations provide an important public service by presenting foreign guest artists in performances, educational events, and cultural programs in communities across the country. The United States should be easing the visa burden for foreign guest artists, not increasing it. The 2009 report from New York University's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress, “Moving Forward: A Renewed Role for American Arts and Artists in the Global Age,” calls for passage of the ARTS Act.

Foreign guest artists engaged by U.S. arts-related organizations are required to obtain an O visa for individual foreign artists, or a P visa for groups of foreign artists, reciprocal exchange programs, and culturally unique artists. Artists and nonprofit arts organizations have confronted uncertainty in gaining approval for visa petitions due to lengthy and inconsistent processing times, inconsistent interpretation of statute and implementation of policies, expense, and unwarranted requests for further evidence. The nature of scheduling, booking, and confirming highly sought after guest soloists and performing groups requires that the timing of the visa process be efficient and reliable, otherwise the American public is denied the opportunity to experience international artistry, American artists scheduled to work alongside international guest artists lose important employment opportunities, and the bottom line is impacted for nonprofit arts groups that have a financial obligation to their audiences.

Delays began when USCIS adopted a Premium Processing Service (PPS) in June 2001, guaranteeing processing within 15 calendar days at an unaffordable cost for most nonprofit arts organizations—$1,225 per petition. Following the creation of PPS, regular O and P visa processing has varied widely, ranging from 30 days to six months. In the summer of 2010, USCIS pledged to meet the statutory 14-day regular processing time, and promised public stakeholders that significant improvements to the quality of artist visa processing would soon be underway as part of the agency’s major effort to revise its policy and training programs. While these statements were encouraging, they have yet to be fully implemented and, absent legislative action, improvements to the artist visa process are subject to the discretion of USCIS leadership.

We ask Congress to include enactment of the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act in any immigration reform effort. The ARTS Act, as passed by the House in 2008, would reduce the total processing times for O and P arts-related visa petitions. USCIS would be required to treat any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within the statutory timeframe as a Premium Processing case (15-day turn around), free of additional charge. Previous versions of the ARTS Act has had strong bipartisan support and has been found by the Congressional Budget Office to come at no cost to the federal government.

New York State Council on the Arts Funding FY 2013/FY2014
February 25, 2013

From Arts NYS Coalition

FY 2013

$35.6 million Aid to Localities (used for grants to arts groups)
4.1 million for staff/office (State Operations)
$39.7 Total of state funds (NOTE: Budget document shows $41.7, which includes NEA federal dollars for NYSCA. Amount varies each year.)

FY 2014 Recommended from State General Fund by Gov.

Same Funding as FY13
plus an increase of $1 Million, which is divided half for State Operations and half for Aid to Localities, and to be used to establish a new account, which would authorize the State Council to receive private donations, to be used for “arts-related” purposes.

NYS budget

OUR REQUEST: $4 million increase to grants budget (Local Assistance).

These funds will be used throughout the state. Local Assistance grants are greatly valued by arts groups and the communities they serve.

NYSCA Budget Action Needed
February 1, 2013

From Norma Dunn, Chairwoman Emeritus, New York City Arts Coalition

We are requesting a $4 million increase designated for General Operating Support (GOS). We want these funds to be used only:
  • to increase the total funding in GOS grants above the average level of this funding by the agency over the past three years

  • to provide the panels with an opportunity to address long standing inequities in funding levels that resulted when some arts groups became eligible for GOS at the time of significant budget cuts at NYSCA.
Both these conditions are important. They may be a bit hard to explain to busy staff and/or elected officials. If necessary, refer them to the Arts Coalition, and we will try to help.

With regard to the question of the agency initiating private fund raising, we are still trying to ascertain more about this. It seems highly unlikely that this field will welcome such an effort given the likelihood of its putting NYSCA in competition with the field.

IMPORTANT: The schedule published today shows that the Senate and Assembly will have Joint Conference Committee meetings starting on March 11. This means we have to convince the legislators to do this by very early March at the latest.

TIMING OF LOCAL MEETINGS: The legislature is not normally in session the third week in February, which means they are in their district. Feb. 18 is a legal holiday, but the rest of that week should be a good time to see them. Asking for appointments now during that week is a good idea, but take them any time you can get one.

If you really cannot take the time for a face-to-face meeting, please write a real letter. (Email is not as effective.)

MESSAGE: You have heard it before, but just saying we need more money is not sufficient. Neither is quoting a lot of statistics about visitors and tourist dollars. What an elected official must know and truly understand is what your work and your presence in his/her community do for that community.

Foot traffic creates safety, and people visiting an arts event, often eat dinner nearby, or park a car. If there are different types of arts activities taking place at different times, this impact can last through the day or weekend. Talk to others near you, and see if you can craft a joint message. Take a letter with you from a nearby restaurant, or better still, the owner of the restaurant.

Every elected official knows that a thriving area within his or her district stabilizes that area. These are places that people want to live. Arts groups add to that vibrancy, as well as the sustainability of those neighborhoods.Make the point.

Arts education, in schools, after school and on the premises of arts groups, adds to the sense of well being. Parents seek these opportunities for their children. Don’t overlook this.

Work with senior centers, or special programs with opening times that fit into the schedules with which seniors are comfortable, have value. Do you provide opportunities for children with disabilities? Are you partnering in anyway with social service groups, particularly in emigrant neighborhoods?

And finally, do you have any idea how much money you and your staff spend in the immediate neighborhood in a week? A month? How many jobs do you provide? Do you hire young people from the neighborhood during the summer or for special events?

Proposed NYSCA Budget for Next Year
January 23, 2013

From Norma Dunn, Chairwoman Emeritus, New York City Arts Coalition

The proposed State budget released late yesterday does NOT contain any cuts to NYSCA.

The grants portion of the NYSCA allocation funded from State dollars is projected to be $35.6 million, which is the same grants level as this year.

The administrative allocation for NYSCA is $4.1 or $4.2 (depends on which line you read, but let’s not quibble over a $100,000).

In addition, each of the above categories has a $500,000 increase to be used in establishing an account, which would enable NYSCA to utilize private donations for arts-related purposes.

These numbers do not include the NEA funds, which the State will receive, and that amount could be a million plus.

Bottom Line: No decrease in funding is always good news. A million dollar increase with so little information (that I can find) and no public process from NYSCA regarding a plan to initiate private sector fund raising to be used by the agency brings up a lot of questions, which will require answers.

This proposal does not specifically address the question of continuing to use the $4 million within the grants portion for the funding proposals that pass muster with the Regional Economic Development Councils, but I am sure it is to be continued.

Future: You will receive any clarification I am able to obtain on the unanswered questions outlined above. The Arts Coalition’s new team (staff; Tory Lynford, Executive Director; Esther Bermann, Administrative Assistant; and the new Co-Chairs: Anne Dennin, Andrea Louie and Richard Kessler) and I will be working throughout this transition to insure a weekly presence in Albany to explain the needs and concerns of the field to the legislature.

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters!
January 14, 2013

From the National Council of Nonprofits

New Congress Faces Old Challenges – Immediately

As the 113rd Congress convenes and its 98 new members start to get acclimated, it faces daunting fiscal challenges left undone by the prior Congress as well as its normal workload of budget and pressing policy matters. Of most immediate attention in the fiscal realm, the following all converge in the next several weeks:

Federal debt limit – the government reached its borrowing ceiling on December 31, and Treasury is now using “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation from defaulting, with the limits on those measures predicted to run out around mid-February; Sequestration cuts – although the old Congress delayed $85 billion in arbitrary across-the-board spending cuts until March 1, that leaves states very little time to adjust their current and future budgets to absorb reductions, maintain services, and alter agreements with charitable nonprofits providing services;

Current federal budget (FY 2013) – the old Congress failed to adopt a budget for this year, and a stop-gap funding measure, known as the Continuing Resolution, expires on March 27, 2013, so the federal government may be forced to shut down if a deal is not reached;

FY 2014 budget – the budget process for the next fiscal year (that begins October 1, 2013) is supposed to start on February 4 with the submission of budget recommendations by the Administration (which is not expected until March due to the uncertainty over items 1-3); and

Comprehensive Tax Reform and Entitlement Program Review – it is likely that any deal to solve the foregoing will mandate a comprehensive tax reform process and a search for savings in mandatory spending programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

A deal on any or all of these matters could dramatically increase the demand for services without providing the necessary resources, thus affecting the ability of charitable nonprofits to serve their communities. Importantly, the White House continues to signal its intent to raise revenues by lowering deductions, including the charitable giving deduction.

Federal Sequestration Delay Disrupts States, Localities, Nonprofits

The January 1 deal to delay across-the-board spending cuts by two months is supposedly designed to give Congress time to develop less disruptive alternatives to $85 billion in arbitrary cuts. However, the postponement rather than cancellation creates further confusion and frustration for states, localities, and nonprofits over the inability to plan and operate with any certainty. Even if a solution is adopted by the new March 1 deadline, many state governments will have little time to act to absorb large cuts in their existing fiscal year budgets, most of which end just three months later, let alone adopt budgets for next fiscal year. Stateline reports that several states, including Kentucky, South Dakota, and Utah will be wrapping up their legislative sessions for the year by the end of March, while Idaho, Maryland, and Mississippi are slated to finish by early April.

Likewise, charitable nonprofits remain in limbo during the two-month delay, not knowing whether contracts will be renewed or canceled. In its statement on the American Taxpayer Relief Act, the National Council of Nonprofits expressed concerns about how the delay will impact work outside Washington, stating: “Federal policymakers have failed to recognize that the arbitrary sequestration cuts to domestic programs will reduce funding without reducing the underlying human needs, thereby increasing demands on states, local governments, and nonprofits in local communities while also decreasing resources to provide needed services.” The statement went on to say, “Too many policymakers apparently are unaware that federal funding actually flows to the states and localities to deliver basic human services. Often these services are delivered through contracts with nonprofits....”

Governors Announce Stances on Taxes

New York Governor Cuomo has created a tax commission to make recommendations for comprehensive state tax reform that is revenue neutral.

Additional Article on the National Council of Nonprofits Website Telemarketers Take Majority of Donations, NY AG Asserts

The North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations released the state’s nonprofit impact report on January 3, starting 2013 off with a straightforward and strong message to local media and policy makers: “Nonprofit are essential.” Among its findings, North Dakota's Nonprofit Sector: In Brief reveals that charitable nonprofits are responsible for more than 15 percent of the state’s private sector jobs and as much as $4.1 billion for the state’s economy. North Dakota’s new report joins recent nonprofit sector and economic impact reports in several other states. Nonprofit advocates are finding the quality research and findings from these reports to be key to telling the story of the impact of the nonprofit community. In addition to adding to the body of economic research, these reports help nonprofits to improve public understanding of the work they do and the communities they serve, improve their operations and programs, and advance their public policy and public awareness initiatives.

The “Fiscal Cliff” Deal and Implications for New York State’s Nonprofits
January 3, 2013

Statement from the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON):

The New York Council of Nonprofits, along with colleagues nationwide, expresses mixed views about the passage of the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” (H.R.8, as amended).

NYCON applauds Congress for the strong bipartisan vote in passing a compromise bill to avert certain immediate threats posed by the fiscal cliff. We thank those elected officials and staff members on Capitol Hill and at the White House who worked around the clock to make this compromise possible and for maintaining incentives for charitable giving for most Americans. As negotiations continue on the now-postponed sequestration cuts and on the debt ceiling, we encourage Congress and the President to recognize how essential these incentives are for the work charitable nonprofits perform in every community throughout the country.

However, the New York Council of Nonprofits also would like to express deep concern that Congress and the President have failed to resolve the pending across-the-board cuts of $54.6 billion from domestic spending programs that will touch virtually every person and every community in America.

Federal policymakers have failed to recognize that the arbitrary sequestration cuts to domestic programs will reduce funding without reducing the underlying human needs, thereby increasing demands on states, local governments, and nonprofits in local communities while also decreasing resources to provide needed services. Too many policymakers apparently are unaware that federal funding actually flows to the states and localities to deliver basic human services. Often these services are delivered through contracts with nonprofits because governments have found charitable nonprofits to be more efficient and effective, in part because they are mission-driven rather than profit-driven. After five years of serving so many more for so much longer with so much less, America's charitable nonprofits are past the breaking point.

Kicking the can down the road means kicking those who are already down and struggling to get back up. We must keep up the pressure on Congress and the President to stop the punitive and arbitrary cuts and get to work on continuing our economic recovery.

To learn and do more, NYCON encourages our members to visit the National Council of Nonprofits website.

The Fiscal Cliff Deal, Nonprofits, and What’s Next

The “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” (H.R.8, as amended) is now law and the fiscal cliff has been partially, but only temporarily, averted. As made clear by virtually all policymakers, reporters, and pundits, more showdowns are looming within the next two to three months as the House, Senate, and President address several issues.

Please stay engaged by subscribing to the free Nonprofit Advocacy Matters e-newsletter through the National Council of Nonprofits as attention shifts to the spending cuts that will additionally burden nonprofits while taking valuable resources from communities.

You Can Help Protect the Work of Charities in the “Fiscal Cliff” Deal
December 18, 2012

From the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON)

The New York Times and many other sources are reporting that the President and House Speaker are currently in negotiations to instate new limits on Charitable Giving to help avert the fiscal cliff.

This is just one of the many national and state policies that are trending towards capping all itemized deductions, including the charitable giving incentive, which would further reduce donations and threaten the ability of nonprofits to serve their communities.

Unless they hear a huge groundswell of opposition immediately, the ability of charitable nonprofits—everything from churches and synagogues to local food banks, cultural groups, Girl Scouts, and United Ways—to raise the funds they need to serve others may be sharply curbed for many years to come.

This policy calls for IMMEDIATE ACTION, but we need you to get involved! Unless there is a response now, these types of limits will have an astounding impact on the charitable donations given to small community based nonprofits. Here are a couple ways you can get involved:
  • Call the White House (202-456-1111) and the Speaker (202-225-0600) RIGHT NOW and give the operator this message:

    • The 28% limit on charitable deductions hurts front-line charities serving people in need. Don’t hurt the helpers. Don’t limit charitable deductions!
    • Give your name, city, and state, and tell what the charitable deduction means to the work you do or the services you rely on.
    • The White House Comment Line operates from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Call now and forward this message. If the lines are busy, please keep trying!

  • Tweet about it! @WhiteHouse and @SpeakerBoehner telling them not to limit charitable deductions. Consider this sample Tweet: @WhiteHouse @SpeakerBoehner — Capping charitable deductions hurts communities.Say no to 28% limit! #protectgiving.

  • Forward the link to this page to everyone you know who cares about the work of your nonprofit, the services you provide, and the people you serve. That means forward this message to all of your co-workers, board members, volunteers, clients, people served, and colleagues with other nonprofits in your community.

  • Go to www.GiveVoice.org or www.councilofnonprofits.org

Thank you for standing with us as we continue to fight for the rights of nonprofits.

If you have any questions please contact Amber Vanderwarker in the NYCON Office for assistance.

Arts Advocacy Day
The 2012 National Arts Action Summit
April 16-17, 2012

Conference Headquarters: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW Washington, DC 20008, 888.444.OMNI (Reservations)
Make your room reservations by March 23: To qualify for the Arts Advocacy Day rate, you must mention Americans for the Arts when making your reservation

Register at the Americans for the Arts website

For more information about this program or any Americans for the Arts programs and services, call 202.371.2830

View Schedule online.

The 25th annual Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations, along with hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Noted singer-songwriter, frontman of Ben Folds Five, and judge on the NBC a cappella singing contest The Sing-Off Ben Folds will be joining arts advocates in Washington, DC for the 25th Annual National Arts Advocacy Day and performing at the 25th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy featuring Emmy Award-winning TV, film, and stage actor and arts advocate Alec Baldwin.
  • LEARN new ways to make the best case for the arts to decision-makers.
  • NETWORK with other attendees from your state and across the country.
  • BE HEARD by your members of Congress when you visit them to make the case for the arts and arts education.

NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org