Dear Reader, THANK YOU SO MUCH for being part of making history!
Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday – President’s Day.
A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.
We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.
As we wrap up our work on the Economic Recovery legislation, we wanted to share with you other upcoming legislative action that we are tracking:
Finalization by early March of the FY 2009 appropriations, which has been operating under a continuing resolution for the last five months.
Release of President Obama’s first federal budget for FY 2010 is expected in late March/early April.
Hearings in the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on the FY 2010 budget.
Hearings in the House Education & Labor Committee on arts in the workforce and arts education.
The 22nd Annual National Arts Advocacy Day conference on Capitol Hill on March 30-31, 2009.