Arts Advocacy Update
The U.S. Senate is back in session this week. One of the major issues to be addressed by Congress before the end of this month is funding (appropriations) for the federal government for FY2023, starting October 1, 2022. In July, the U.S. House passed H.R. 8294, a package of six appropriations bills that funds several federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Congress is tasked with passing 12 appropriations bills each fiscal year. H.R. 8294 provides a record-level $207 million each for the NEA and the NEH. Here is a press release from the U.S. House Appropriations Committee concerning the passage of the legislation by the full chamber. Here is a history of annual appropriations by Congress for the NEA.
Please urge your U.S. Senators to support and pass increased funding for all the federal arts and cultural-related agencies and the Arts in Education program administered by the U.S. Department of Education, including “at least $207 million” for the NEA and NEH. Please use this OPERA America Action Alert to tailor your ask and send your message to your U.S. senators. It takes less than five minutes of your time. Our nation is still under a national disaster declaration due to the current pandemic that continues to adversely impact ticket sales for opera performances and other public programming. Additionally, this summer has seen adverse weather conditions that have impacted businesses, nonprofit organizations, and millions of families and students across the nation. Support for the arts and cultural sector continues to be important during these challenging times.
On September 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave final approval for COVID booster shots developed by Pfizer and Moderna to combat the original COVID strain and the latest Omicron subvariants. Various medical facilities and pharmacies are expected to start administering the new boosters this week. The Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 12 and older, while the Moderna boosters are authorized for adults ages 18 and older. Those who are age-eligible can receive their booster shot two months after receiving their first two primary shots or their most recent booster. These recently approved booster shots from both companies will replace the vaccines first approved by the CDC to combat the original COVID strain. Further CDC guidance concerning the pandemic can be found here.
The CDC also released guidance on the monkeypox outbreak and what can be done to minimize the spread, including getting the monkeypox vaccine. Please direct any inquiries concerning the monkeypox outbreak, including access to the monkeypox vaccine, to Tony Shivers, director of government affairs, at TShivers@operaamerica.org.
The arts and cultural sector, including the opera community, continues to be adversely impacted by the pandemic as various opera companies struggle with low to modest ticket sales. It is important for the opera community to engage with federal, state, and local officials to urge continued support for the arts and cultural sector as important drivers of the economy at all levels. The latest economic data (2020) released this past March by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis under the U.S. Department of Commerce show that the arts and cultural sector added $876.7 billion or 4.2 percent to the national gross domestic product (GDP). This amount is lower than 2019 economic data that showed the production of arts and cultural goods and services in the U.S. added $919.7 billion or 4.3 percent to the nation’s GDP. In most states, the arts and cultural sector is one of the top industries in terms of value added and employment.
OPERA America joins over 30 national organizations across the nonprofit sector in a support letter to urge Congress to provide more support to the nonprofit sector, including restoring and improving federal charitable giving incentives and reinstating and enhancing the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) program. The letter references bipartisan legislation that should serve as the basis for this relief. If Congress passes such legislation, charitable nonprofits will have the resources and staff they need to provide relief and recovery to their communities. The ongoing pandemic and widespread natural disasters this year have adversely impacted charitable nonprofits’ abilities to support their communities. OPERA America urges its members and interested stakeholders across the opera community and overall arts sector to urge their federal elected officials to act now before the November elections to reinstate the ERTC for the last quarter of 2021 and to increase federal incentives for charitable giving.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) Program Update; SBA Continues to Provide Technical Assistance During Grant Closeout Period
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to implement the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program as grantees go through the grant closeout process. The SBA has awarded a total of $14.57 billion in grants to 13,011 eligible grantees, including performing arts organizations. The SBA has officially completed grant decisions on all outstanding appeals and reconsiderations. The most current program report can be found here. A list of SVOG program grantees can be found here.
The SBA concluded its audit webinar series for for-profit entities. Grantees that expend $750,000 or more in total federal funds in a given fiscal year are required to complete a third-party audit. Grantees with SVOG awards of at least $500,000 will automatically receive an Audit Report Action Item allowing them to indicate whether audit requirements are applicable to them. If your SVOG award is less than $500,000 and you expend over $750,000 in total federal funds within a given fiscal year, please reach out to your Grant Management Specialist to request an Audit Report Action Item.
SBA resources concerning audit requirements are below.
SVOG Audit Webinar Series
- Introduction to SVOG Audit Requirements and the Single Audit
- Auditing and the Compliance Supplement
- Audit Requirements for For-Profit Entities
- What to Expect During the Monitoring Phase
Helpful Audit-Related Resources
- Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200)
- 2022 OMB Compliance Supplement
- Single Audit | AICPA
- SVOG Guidance Documents and FAQs
- Audit Attestation Requirement for For-Profit SVOG Recipients
Additional SVOG information and instructions are at sba.gov/svog. For additional assistance, please email your Grant Management Specialist. If you have not yet been in touch with your Grant Management Specialist and need support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the customer service center at 800.659.2955. The call center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.