Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch released the following statement in response to final passage of the FY 2020 spending bills:
“I am pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives and leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees have avoided a government shutdown and reached an agreement on all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills, particularly the ones that are important for cultural support in our country and of significance to Americans for the Arts—funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and federal cultural agencies, juvenile justice, arts education, and ground-breaking support for creative arts therapies in funding through the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Department.
This year we’ve been working toward an expansion of federal support in how the arts integrate into additional policy areas, beyond safeguarding and expanding the budgets of the traditional cultural agencies. This has been the intent of the Congressional Arts Caucus and Senate Cultural Caucus—to further the way the arts can leverage positive social impacts in juvenile justice, in health, and in education.
These advocacy wins are a result of a year of grassroots outreach through a comprehensive network of local and state arts advocacy leaders and key communications efforts. It was also the result of working with dozens of advocacy partners. Carnegie Hall led the effort on expanding the arts and juvenile justice, and we were joined by the American Art Therapy Association and the other arts and health organizations in pursuing increased attention to creative arts therapies.
Additionally, Congress included a fix to the 2017 tax code overhaul, that forced nonprofits to pay unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on fringe benefits for employees—transit and parking benefits. Americans for the Arts worked with other nonprofit partners—including the Charitable Giving Coalition and Independent Sector—to strongly push back against this unfair tax on nonprofits. We are pleased that lawmakers were able to see the unnecessary burden this new UBIT provision was to organizations like ours and were able to come to a bipartisan agreement to repeal it.”
Five pro-arts appropriations items include:
- National Endowment for the Arts—FY 2020 funding was increased by $7.25 million, the largest amount in six years, to $162.25 million. We also applaud the increases for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- Veteran Affairs Department—The VA received a ground-breaking $5 million direct appropriation for creative arts therapies to treat veterans through their Whole Health initiative.
- Department of Defense—Similar to the VA, the DoD received committee report instructions to increase support for creative arts therapies in treating servicemembers with TBI and psychological health conditions.
- Department of Justice—The DoJ was provided additional funding and committee report instructions by both the Senate and House to include arts-based juvenile justice programs among the strategies pursued by its Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention.
- Education Department—The Assistance for Arts Education grant program, administered by ED, received $30 million, an amount matching its FY 2019 level.
Americans for the Arts stands ready to fight for the arts on a bipartisan basis with the 95,000 nonprofit arts organizations across the United States, the nation’s mayors, the business community, and the hundreds of thousands of arts advocates that are part of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund. The arts are important to America, to its economy, and to the betterment of communities. Americans for the Arts applauds the U.S. Congress for expanding our country’s investment in the arts.
For tools, resources, and information on how to make the case for the arts and arts education, visit the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Mobilization Center.