Updated NASAA Member Directory

Thursday, February 22, 2007

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NationalAssembly of State Arts Agencies

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Legislative Update

NASAA Legislative Counsel Thomas L. Birch NEA Chairman Presents Arts Budget to Appropriations Panel

President's budget proposes arts spending increase
On February 5, the Bush administration sent to Congress its proposed budget for the 2008 fiscal year proposing $128.4 million in spending for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an increase of $4 million for grants programs. Federal arts spending fared well in the budget. Overall, the White House proposes cutting domestic discretionary spending by $13 billion in 2008, with cuts deepening by 2012, when domestic programs would be reduced by $34 billion over 2007.

According to the limited information available in the budget documents prepared by the Office of Management and Budget for release on February 5, the increase in arts grants spending would include additional funds for Challenge America and American Masterpieces, including the program's literary component, the Big Read. Funds for administration are held even in the budget offered for FY2008. A year ago, the Bush administration proposed level funding for the NEA with some internal shifting of funds to address increased NEA administrative expenses.

The administration's FY2008 budget proposes a modest spending increase from Congress for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to $141.355 million, just $400,000 over the agency's current budget. The proposed NEH budget for 2008 would include funds for the agency's "We the People" program, which supports the teaching of American history and culture. It also includes $1.4 million for NEH's recently launched Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI).

The Office of Museum Services is slated for an additional $8 million in the FY08 budget proposal over $32 million for 2007. The administration's funding request for museums includes support for conservation, museum professionals, and museum grants for African-American history and culture.

As for the Department of Education's arts in education program, the Bush administration's budget for the seventh year in a row requests zero funds. The final spending figure for the arts in education grants expected to emerge from the FY2007 omnibus continuing resolution is $35 million.

Meanwhile, Congress has been busy wrapping up nine unfinished appropriations for FY 2007. The House of Representatives on January 31 passed an omnibus continuing resolution with funds for the arts endowment set, as with almost all domestic programs, at the 2006 level, holding the NEA at $124.4 million. With the Senate ready to approve the money bill money bill before the February 15 deadline, when the current continuing resolution expires, legislators can then turn their attention to debating the details of the 2008 federal budget.

Artists' charitable deduction bill introduced
Advocates are hopeful that the 110th Congress will move forward on legislation to extend to artists the full, fair-market value charitable deduction for the donation of their own works of art to museums, libraries and other collecting institutions. Already, Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) has introduced legislation he authored in the last Congress, the Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act, and similar legislation in the Senate, the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, has been offered again by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT). In addition, Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) have introduced broad tax legislation which, among other provisions, contains the full artists' fair-market value deduction bill. The previous bills had broad bipartisan support, with more than 100 representatives and 20 senators signed on as cosponsors. The artists' bill has passed the Senate five times, but has never come to a vote in committee in the House.

In 1969, Congress repealed legislation allowing artists, writers, and composers to take a fair-market value deduction for their works donated to a museum, library, or archive. As a result of the 1969 repeal, works donated by artists to nonprofit institutions have dramatically declined. While creators can no longer claim a fair-market deduction for the donation of their works, collectors who own those works can take the full deduction when they donate to a nonprofit institution.

Partners In Tourism
NASAA participates in a coalition convened by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities focused on promoting tourism through the arts, historic preservation, and recreation. Regular meetings of the groups representing historic preservation interests, the National Parks Service, state humanities councils, the tourism industry, as well as the arts and cultural organizations discuss strategies for engaging federal policy makers in Congress and the executive branch in expanding opportunities for cultural heritage tourism.

At a recent meeting, the groups explored ways in which better coordination might be achieved across various sectors in Congress on policy issues affecting cultural heritage tourism, with particular attention to discovering common issues that would apply to cultural tourism.

For more on cultural tourism, view the WINTER 2007 issue of Cultural Heritage Tourism News

Keep abreast of current congressional news and federal legislative updates, and be sure to take advantage of NASAA's arts advocacy tools and services.