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Article Published: 19 Dec 2023

Arts Advocacy Update

Reminder to Urge Your U.S. Representatives and Senators to Support Increased Arts Funding for FY2024; Deadline to Pass FY2024 Funding is February 2

A reminder for OPERA America members and the broader opera community to urge their U.S. representatives and senators to support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEA is a federal agency and the only entity, public and private, to provide access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. terrorities. It is important for the NEA to receive as much funding as possible to adequately and equitably support the performing arts sector and overall arts and cultural sector.

The federal government is currently operating under a temporary FY2024 appropriations (funding) bill — H.R. 6363, Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act of 2024 — until January 19 and February 2, which provides funding at FY2023 spending levels. The February 2 deadline applies to relevant federal agencies that support the arts and cultural sector such as the NEA and NEH. Both federal agencies are receiving their FY2023 funding levels at $207 million. The president has requested $211 million for both federal agencies for FY2024, which commenced on October 1, 2023.

Please urge your U.S. representatives and senators to support “at least” $211 million for the NEA and NEH pursuant to the president’s FY2024 budget request. Federal elected officials will be in their home states and congressional districts during the holiday season hosting town halls and office hours. There are great opportunities to engage with them about the importance of your opera company/organization and the broader opera community to the state and local community in terms of economic impact, creative and educational benefits for families and children, and benefits for mental health. You can use this OPERA America Action Alert to quickly and effectively communicate with your federal elected officials electronically.


Reminder to Urge Your U.S. Representatives and Senators to Pass Increased Incentives for Charitable Giving

OPERA America is an active member of the Charitable Giving Coalition (CGC), which is aggressively advocating for passage of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House and Senate to reestablish and increase federal incentives for charitable giving. The legislation, the Charitable Act (H.R. 3435/S. 566), will reestablish and increase the universal, non-itemized charitable deduction to about $4,500 for individuals and about $9,000 for joint filers and married couples. The prior non-itemized deduction — $300 for individuals and $600 for joint filers and married couples — ended on December 31, 2021. Many opera companies/organizations benefited from the expired charitable deduction during the recent pandemic to maintain operations and to continue to provide public performances and programming.

Here is a CGC one-pager about the legislation, and here is information on how the non-itemized deduction has increased charitable giving between 2020–2021. You can quickly and effectively communicate and urge support for introduced legislation by using this OPERA America Action Alert.


NEA Announces FY2025 Grantmaking Opportunities; Application Guidance Webinars Scheduled for January 2024

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced its FY2025 grantmaking for its programs that support the arts and cultural sector — Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) and Challenge America. OPERA America strongly encourages its members and the broader opera community to determine which NEA grantmaking programs are best for their needs and to apply by the appropriate deadlines. GAP provides funding opportunities for arts projects in a variety of artistic disciplines. GAP has two (2) funding cycles, with the first application deadline as February 15 for projects beginning in 2025.

The NEA will be hosting discipline-specific webinars and staff office hours beginning in January 2024. Please go here to find out more about the upcoming NEA application guidance webinars for the available grantmaking programs and to register for them for January and beyond.

More information about all of NEA’s grantmaking programs can be found here.


NEA Announces New Grantmaking — ArtsHERE — to Support Increased Opportunities for Arts Participation; Interest Deadline is January 19

A reminder that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced a new grantmaking initiative to fund specific projects that will strengthen organizations’ capacity to sustain meaningful community engagement and increase arts participation for underserved groups and communities. The initiative — ArtsHERE — is a partnership with South Arts and in collaboration with the other five U.S. regional arts organizations (RAOs). ArtsHERE will provide non-matching grant support for organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to equity within their practices and programming. Managed by South Arts, ArtsHERE will award about 95 nonprofit organizations with non-matching grants of $65,000 to $130,000 each.

Please note the following requirements and info for potential applicants.

  • A webinar for potential applicants was held on November 30. The archived webinar is here.
  • Program staff from each of the RAOs are available to answer questions and will be offering office hours. Please go here for further details.
  • All applicants must submit a statement of interest by January 19, 2024.
  • A select number of applicants will be invited to submit a full application by April 19, 2024.


U.S. Congress Advances Ticketing Legislation; Please Urge Your U.S. Representatives and Senators to Take Action to Address Fraud and Speculative Ticket Sales

Legislation is being considered in the U.S. House and Senate to address fraud and deceptive practices in the secondary ticket sales market, which adversely impacts the opera community and the broader performing arts sector. OPERA America is collaborating with its national arts partners in the Fix the Tix Coalition to support the Fans First Act (S. 3457), bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate to prohibit deceptive websites and speculative ticket sales and to create requirements for all ticket sellers to publicly disclose any additional fees involved with ticket prices. OPERA America is also working with its national partners to ensure that opera companies/organizations still have flexibility as primary sellers for tickets donated back to them by charitable donors.

Congress will continue to consider such legislation beginning in January 2024. Please share your ticket-selling experiences with your U.S. representatives and senators and urge them to take action in 2024.


New Filing Location for O and P Petitions Reminder

A reminder that as of October 1, 2023, Form I-129 petitions should be filed at the Texas Service Center for O and P classification approval. Formerly, petitioners sent materials to California or Vermont depending on the location of the primary petitioner. USCIS very quietly updated this news on its website, providing two months for petitioners to adjust to the change. Any petitions postmarked on or after December 1, 2023, will be rejected as improperly filed if mailed to the incorrect location.

For more details, see USCIS's webpage on direct filing addresses for Form I-129. There are slight variations on the mailing address and the ZIP+4 depending on the method of delivery as well as whether a petition is filed regularly or with Premium Processing Service requested.

More information about various performing arts visa issues can be found on Artists from Abroad website.