February 13, 2009
Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday - President's Day.
A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.
We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.
As we wrap up our work on the Economic Recovery legislation, we wanted to share with you other upcoming legislative action that we are tracking:
- Finalization by early March of the FY 2009 appropriations, which has been operating under a continuing resolution for the last five months.
- Release of President Obama's first federal budget for FY 2010 is expected in late March/early April.
- Hearings in the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on the FY 2010 budget.
- Hearings in the House Education & Labor Committee on arts in the workforce and arts education.
- The 22nd Annual National Arts Advocacy Day conference on Capitol Hill on March 30-31, 2009.
Webinar on Federal Funding Announced, NEA Officials to Join
There is further good news for the arts and arts education in the other sections of this $789 billion economic recovery legislation -- but we're still reading through the 1000+ pages. Americans for the Arts will give an update on the economic stimulus package as well as other federal sources of arts funding in a webinar on Wednesday, February 18, 2:00-3:30pm EST. The webinar presentation will include remarks by Acting National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Patrice Walker Powell and newly appointed Director of Government Affairs Anita Decker. The webinar is free to Americans for the Arts professional members. Not a Member? Join Today.