Login failed. Please try again.

Article Published: 06 Jun 2023

Arts Advocacy Update

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Announces Second Round of FY2023 Grantmaking

The NEA recently announced more than $103 million in recommended grants for its second round of FY2023 grantmaking. Organizations in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions will carry out arts projects in three NEA funding categories: Grants for Arts Projects (GAP), Our Town, and State and Regional Partnerships. OPERA America congratulates its members and allies who secured grants for their performances and public programming.

GAP is the NEA’s largest grants program for organizations. Matching grants range from $10,000 to $100,000, and are recommended for organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. In July 2022, 1,927 eligible applications were received, requesting more than $98 million in FY2023 support. In this round, 1,129 projects are approved for funding, totaling more than $31 million. Project-based funding will support opportunities for public engagement with the arts and arts education, the integration of the arts with strategies that promote the health and well-being of people and communities, and the improvement of overall capacity and capabilities within the arts sector. The deadline for organizations interested in applying for the next round of Grants for Arts Projects is Thursday, July 6, 2023.

Our Town is the NEA’s creative placemaking grants program. Our Town projects advance local economic, physical, or social outcomes in communities, ultimately laying the groundwork for systems change and centering equity. Matching grants in this category range from $25,000 to $150,000 and support projects that will take place in 34 states. Of the 175 eligible applications, 57 projects are approved for funding, totaling $4,175,000The deadline for organizations interested in applying for the next round of Our Town grants is Thursday, August 3, 2023.

Each year, approximately 40 percent of the NEA’s appropriated program funds are awarded for state and regional partnerships, specifically state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, and the national service organizations to support the work of the states and regions. In total, up to $67.9 million is recommended for these partners in FY2023, with up to $55.1 million of that total designated for state arts agencies. 

Visit arts.gov for all guidelines and application resources for NEA’s FY2023 grantmaking.


President Signs Debt Limit Legislation; Caps Federal Non-Defense Spending

The president signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (H.R. 3746), which suspends the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until January 2025. The U.S. will be able to continue to pay its current debt obligations. The law requires federal non-defense funding to remain flat for FY2024, commencing October 1, 2023, and be increased by 1% for FY2025. The law also requires the U.S. to claw back about $28 billion in unobligated pandemic relief funding that will be used to beef up non-defense spending. Congress provided $207 million to the NEA and the NEH for FY2023, and the president has proposed $211 million for both federal agencies for FY2024. Here is an NEA appropriations (funding) history. OPERA America is collaborating with its national arts organization partners to advocate for “at least” $211 million for both agencies and increased funding for additional federal arts and cultural-related agencies. OPERA America encourages its members and allies to urge their U.S. representatives and senators to support and pass increased funding for all federal arts and cultural-related agencies by using this action alert.


U.S. District Court Rules Tennessee Anti-Drag Legislation Unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge ruled on June 2 that a recently passed Tennessee law banning public drag performances is “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.” According to the Tennessee General Assembly (state legislature), the law, the Adult Entertainment Act SB 0003 (Public Chapter #2), “creates an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a minor.” The law defines an “adult cabaret performance” as a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features exotic dancers, and male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a certain interest. The first violation is considered a misdemeanor with subsequent violations considered as felonies.

The Tennessee law is an example of anti-trans and anti-drag legislation being introduced in many states and passed in some states that attacks the LGBTQIA+ community, including restricting health care to transgender youth and prohibiting drag performances, which may affect the ability of opera companies to provide certain opera performances. OPERA America is working with its partners across the arts and cultural sector to track such legislation and to develop advocacy resources for use by its members and allies at the state and local levels of government.