In the face of turmoil in Washington, D.C., and protests against the new administration happening here at home and around the world, it’s easy to lose track of the individual programs put at risk by rash decisions from the White House and Congressional leaders.
One such threat is the Republican plan to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It’s become clear that a large part of their strategy is to distract and overwhelm advocates by releasing a deluge of controversial news each day, and they’re counting on those distractions to make good on this incredibly damaging threat to American arts and culture.
Now is the time to let the president, Speaker Ryan and your congressman know that the cultural community and its advocates are paying attention.
You can do two things right now to fight for the arts in a meaningful way:
1. Sign Americans for the Arts national petition to save the NEA and support arts programming.
2. Call your congressional representatives using this short script and tell them the NEA, NEH, and Public Broadcasting create jobs, build communities, and contribute to children’s education–they’re too valuable to be used for political points. When you’re ready, you can find your representatives’ contact information here:
You can also sign up for AFTA’s Arts Action Fund updates and ask five friends to sign up for alerts from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.
Philadelphia is the birthplace of American democracy and the home of some of our country’s greatest cultural icons. We can be the home of the resistance to this threat to America’s arts and culture as well. Together, we’ll stand against this each step of the way. Please keep an eye out for updates and information as they arrive.
Is your Member of Congress a “Thumbs Up” arts champion or an arts threat? Click on the links below to access the full versions of the Congressional Arts Report Card.
Not sure who your elected representatives are? Click here to find out!
The 2016 Congressional Arts Report Card is a one-stop guide to help you make informed decisions at the ballot box. We’ve used metrics and analysis based on previous congression voting records, sponsorship of key arts legislation, and participation in the cultural caucuses. Because there were not enough recorded votes to assign traditional grades in 2016, we have provided a “Thumbs Up” for those members who have exhibited pro-arts support.
Contribute to the Arts Action Fund PAC today to help elect a pro-arts Congress!
Emergency Action Required!
I would like to ask for your help on an urgent matter that is unfolding in Harrisburg and will directly impact you.
The Greater Phila. Cultural Alliance has been tracking one of the primary revenue proposals of the state budget process: lifting the exemption sales tax for nonprofits. If legislators do this, then admissions, tickets, educational programming and other public-facing services will be subject to at least a 6% sales tax. The Cultural Alliance has monitored this issue over the past year, paying special attention over the last few weeks as the budget stalemate has become increasingly serious. As other sources of revenue have been eliminated, the chances that our exemption is lifted—likely a permanent change—are worse than before. Legislators worked through the weekend with a goal of finishing before the end of this week.
It is urgent that we move swiftly to oppose this, because once legislation reaches the floor of the House or Senate, there is little time, transparency, or opportunity to intervene.
It is critical that opposition to this short-term budget solution reaches the ears of key legislators. As there is no set schedule or timeline for these negotiations and session has taken place over the weekend and into the evenings, the Director of Policy & Community Engagement will be on call throughout the process. You can contact Anne Marie Rhoades at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (215) 399-3526.
Below is our suggested message text, and a list of the key legislators we would like to reach:
Museums, gardens, performing arts centers, theatres, zoos and other cultural program providers exist to benefit the public. They provide extensive educational resources for students, benefit families, and attract people to communities. These organizations exist to provide services for their communities that cannot survive in the commercial marketplace – which is why they are exempt from taxes in the first place. To deliver these services, cultural organizations rely upon earned revenue (from tickets, admissions and fees) and charitable contributions. Being exempt from taxes greatly helps them to deliver affordable services to the public, balancing access with earned revenue.
Applying state sales tax to arts and culture will raise well less than 1% of Pennsylvania’s budget gap, but it will have a chilling effect upon arts and culture. For a family of four to attend a concert or visit a museum, it will significantly increase the cost of the experience. Many will not be able to go. In addition, the vast majority of cultural institutions are small, and unprepared to take on the administrative burden of accounting for sales tax, adding cost to organizations that can ill afford to absorb it, while not solving the state’s budget problem.
While we understand the critical need to balance the budget, lifting the sales tax exemption for nonprofits will do more harm than good. I urge you to make sure that this is not part of the budget proposal.
Here is the list of the legislators to reach asap. Phone calls have proven particularly effective in this situation, though email addresses are also below.
Senator Joe Scarnati – Senate President Pro Tem (Rep)
(717) 787-7084 (Harrisburg Office)
(814) 265-2030 (Brockway Office)
Senator Jake Corman – Senate Majority Leader (Rep)
(717) 787-1377 (Harrisburg Office)
(814) 355-0477 (Bellefonte Office)
Senator Jay Costa – Senate Minority Leader (Dem)
(717) 787-7683 (Harrisburg Office)
(412) 241-6690 (Pittsburgh Office)
Representative Mike Turzai – Speaker of the House (Rep)
(717) 772-9943 (Harrisburg Office)
(412) 369-2230 (District Office)
Representative Dave Reed – House Majority Leader (Rep)
(717) 705-7173 (Harrisburg Office)
(724) 465-0220 (Indiana, PA Office)
Representative Frank Dermody – House Minority Leader (Dem)
(717) 787-3566 (Harrisburg Office)
(724) 274-4770 (Cheswick Office)
Representative Bill Adolph – House Appropriations Chair (Rep)
(717) 787-1248 (Harrisburg Office)
(610) 544-9878 (Springfield Office)
Representative Joe Markosek – House Appropriations Ranking Member (Dem)
(717) 783-1540 (Harrisburg Office)
(412) 856-8284 (Monroeville Office)
With all the cut backs in arts education in public schools and the lack of live music in communities, it is more important than ever for us to work to support the arts.
Whether it is working to develop innovative new legislation or to protect arts and education funding, legislative advocacy is more important than ever!
If all else fails and you can’t find individual help anywhere else
Find Your Legislator!, DE
Find Your Legislator!, NJ
Find Your Legislator!, PA
For arts advocacy
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Citizens for the Arts in PA
Art Pride in NJ
State of DE Arts Resources
Americans for the Arts
International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies
U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Keep these tips handy when contacting your elected officials:
1. Politicians aren’t interested in the opinions of people who can’t vote for them. Identify yourself as a constituent of the legislator you’re contacting.
2. Whether writing or calling your legislators, focus on a single topic. You’ll be more effective and receive a faster response.
3. Ask the legislator to take specific action, like supporting a piece of legislation. Ask for a written response that gives your legislator’s position on the issue.
4. Make your points quickly and concisely to have a greater impact.
5. When talking about an issue, it’s best to use your own words.