Arts Advocacy Update
The U.S. Congress is out of session until after the November 8 general election. OPERA America urges eligible voters across the opera community and the overall arts and cultural sector to vote and to help others in their communities to get to the polls. The upcoming elections at all levels of government are consequential for the arts and cultural sector, as with any election cycle, with all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate to be contested. At the state level, 39 state and territorial governor seats will be contested as well as most state legislative seats. At the local level, seats will be contested across the country. State and local level elections will have an impact on the leadership at various state and local arts agencies. For more information about what is at stake in your state and local community, please go to your state’s election office website.
After the November 8 election, Congress will reconvene its session to consider and pass an appropriations package to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY2023. Currently, the federal government is operating under a temporary funding bill at FY2022-enacted funding levels that expires on December 16. In July, the U.S. House passed its FY2023 appropriations package — H.R. 8294 — for consideration by the U.S. Senate that funds the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities at $207 million each. Currently, both federal agencies are operating at the FY2022-enacted funding levels of $180 million each.
OA developed a current action alert encouraging its members and interested stakeholders throughout the opera community and overall arts and cultural sector to contact their 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. The opera community and overall arts and cultural sector continues to deal with the ongoing pandemic with low-to-modest ticket sales from a cautious general public. The summer and fall seasons have also caused 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.
Congress may also likely consider a “tax extenders legislative package” before the end of the year to potentially extend current tax relief policies due to expire and/or to revive expired tax relief policies. OPERA America has been aggressively supporting bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House and Senate — H.R. 6161/S. 3265 — to retroactively reinstate the Employee Retention Tax Credit program for the fourth quarter of 2021 that was eliminated to pay for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021. OPERA America encourages the opera community to urge their federal elected officials to pass this legislation before the end of the year so opera companies and opera-related organizations can continue to keep their employees and creative workers on staff as they deal with low-to-modest ticket sales for their performances and other public programming.
OPERA America is also urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House and Senate to reinstate and significantly increase federal incentives for charitable giving. The opera community and their respective donor community can do the same through this OPERA America action alert.
It is important for all legislation that benefits the overall arts and cultural sector to pass by the end of this year as the current 117th Congress finishes its business. Starting in January 2023, there will be a new two-year session of Congress — the 118th Congress — and all legislation that did not pass will have to be reintroduced again for consideration and passage.