Monday, April 11, 2011

Arts Advocacy Day wrap-up

From the Theatre Communications Group Web site:

Every year TCG’s government programs staff and a group of member theatre leaders attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. This year marked the 24th annual gathering presented by Americans for the Arts, co-sponsored by TCG and other arts organizations. Arts Advocacy Day gathers and empowers a broad cross section of America’s cultural leaders. Hundreds of grassroots advocates participate and underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased funding for the arts.

On April 4, Kevin Spacey kicked off Arts Advocacy Day by delivering the 24th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. Arts advocacy training workshops were the focus of the events on that day. There were legislative issue briefings on NEA appropriations, arts education funding, charitable tax incentives, improving the visa process for international artists, funding for cultural exchange and protecting performing arts technology that utilizes White Spaces.

This year more than 500 arts advocates from across the nation met with their representatives on Capitol Hill on April 5, calling on them to support arts-friendly legislation and policies.

Joining TCG staff for Hill visits were Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island; Elisabeth Morten, trustee at Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut and TCG National Council member; Laura Penn, executive director of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society; Gerard Stropnicky, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Pennsylvania; as well as TCG board members: Debbie Chinn; Mark Shugoll, immediate past chair of Arena Stage in Washington, DC; Mark Valdez, national coordinator of the Network of Ensemble Theaters in California; and Clyde Valentin, executive director of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival in Brooklyn, New York.

The TCG delegation met with Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA-11) and his staff; Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-31-CA); Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-12-NY); Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and his staff; Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and his staff; and arts staffers in the offices of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Members of Congress were urged to support level funding for the NEA and arts education within the U.S. Department of Education; support legislation that will reduce the total processing times for O and P visa petitions filed by not-for-profit arts organizations to a maximum of 45 days; increase funding for cultural exchange through the State Department; and support tax incentives for charitable giving. Congress was also informed about the ongoing concerns regarding protection of wireless microphones used in the performing arts and the need for the FCC to make performing arts organizations eligible to apply for Part 74 licenses and therefore eligible for interference protections.

Action: There is still time to influence the outcome of both the FY 11 and FY 12 appropriations bills and your Members of Congress need to hear from you. Please send a message to your elected officials.