Arts Advocacy Update
Please Urge Your Congress to Pass Increased Funding for the Arts for FY2024
The U.S. Congress is currently on summer recess until early September (the U.S. House returns on September 5, and the U.S. Senate returns on September 12). Congress is on recess despite not passing any of the 12 individual appropriations (funding) bills needed to fund the federal government for FY2024. The U.S. House only passed one (military construction and veteran affairs) of the 12 appropriations bills. The U.S. Senate has not passed any appropriations bills. Any appropriations bill needs to be agreed to by both legislative chambers.
Please engage your U.S. Representatives and Senators while they are back in their home states and congressional districts and urge them to support and pass increased funding for all the federal arts and cultural-related agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and arts education programs under the U.S. Department of Education.
The NEA is particularly important for the opera community and overall arts and cultural sector because it is the only entity — public or private — that provides equal access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, supporting activities such as performances, exhibitions, healing arts and arts education programs, festivals, and artist residencies. Here are additional facts about the NEA and how it leverages its funding to support the arts and humanities at the state and local levels. The NEA and the NEH are currently funded at $207 million each for FY2023. The president has proposed $211 million (pages 1251–1254), a $4 million increase, for each federal agency for FY2024, commencing on October 1, 2023.
The U.S. House is considering appropriations (funding) legislation (FY2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies) that provides $186.3 million each to the NEA and the NEH. The U.S. Senate is considering appropriations legislation (FY2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies) that provides level funding ($207 million each) to both agencies in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (debt-limit agreement) that Congress and the White House agreed to so that the federal government would not default on its current financial obligations. The U.S. House made even deeper funding cuts in the FY2024 education funding bill, zeroing out programs, including the arts in education grants program.
Please engage and urge your U.S. representatives and senators to support and pass funding legislation that will increase funding for the arts and humanities, including “at least” $211 million each for the NEA and the NEH. OPERA America members and allies can use OPERA America’s action alert to communicate quickly electronically with their congressional delegations.
OPERA America also encourages its members and allies to engage their congressional delegations during the congressional summer recess concerning this important issue. Below are some quick and easy things that can be done during the month of August.
- Find out about your U.S. Representatives and Senators and where their state and congressional offices are located.
- Follow your congressional delegation on social media. (Most, if not all, U.S. representatives and senators have a Facebook and/or X account.)
- Subscribe to receive newsletters sent by your congressional delegation to find out about upcoming office hours, town hall events, and community events.
- Participate in various events (office hours, town hall events, and community events, etc.) hosted by your congressional delegation during the month of August to highlight and discuss the creative, educational, and economic importance of the arts and cultural sector.
- Send your U.S. representatives and senators an in-person or virtual meeting request via email while they are in their respective states and congressional districts during the month of August.
- Invite your congressional delegation to your venue or event space to see a performance or public programming and/or to talk with company/organization staff, artists, and creative workers.
- Thank your congressional delegation for their support during the pandemic, as Congress provided well over $4 trillion to states, local governments, local communities, local school districts, schools, families, and students.
- Urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support and pass increased funding – “at least” $211 million – each for the NEA and NEH for FY2024.
Any questions or inquiries can be directed to Tony Shivers, director of government affairs, at TShivers@operaamerica.org.