A New Administration, New Congress, and New Arts Advocacy

Advocacy Update

Tuesday, November 8th marked the end of the 2016 election cycle and the beginning of our advocacy efforts for the coming years. This was an unparalleled cycle for many reasons, with historic presidential candidates at the top of each major party ticket. The election resulted in Donald Trump as the new president-elect and new members in the House and Senate, each with a Republican majority. As always, we will work quickly to build relationships with our elected officials and educate them on the federal arts advocacy issues that matter deeply to our sector.

Also in this cycle, we saw tension in many communities around differences between deeply held personal, political, and social values and beliefs and how they might manifest in national policies. We know the power of the arts to unite communities, revitalize our schools, provide safe spaces for dialogue and healing, raise awareness of social issues, and be a gateway of learning about new cultures. We support you and encourage you to continue doing this work to strengthen your communities.

While we are facing a new period of uncertainty about the direction of our nation, we at the Performing Arts Alliance are certain about and affirm these values: 

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion within the performing arts sector, where the voices, experiences, artistic expressions, and practices of all peoples and cultures are respected and acknowledged.

  • Continuous learning among PAA members and within the performing arts sector, creating an environment where leaders share and build knowledge to support the work of member organizations, our communities, and the field at large.

  • The power of collective action that engages multiple voices within the sector, equipping and empowering arts advocates to address government leaders and other decision makers about the issues affecting their arts community.

  • The leadership of the federal government in supporting the nonprofit arts sectornationwide through resources and policies that acknowledge the performing arts’ contributions to society and respond to the sector’s needs. 

You are key to the process of policymaking in all arenas, including the arts and culture sector. We encourage you to speak up for the issues impacting your communities and the work of your arts organizations and to build relationships with new and returning lawmakers. In preparation for the new administration, PAA and several national arts organizations developed “Advancing the Arts to Support National Policy Priorities,” an arts policy statement expressing a unified purpose for our field across a diverse array of members of the arts and culture community.  As of now, though, PAA continues to work with the current Congress on these issues: 

  • FY17 funding for arts and culture-related agencies and programs, currently funded at these FY16 levels:

    • National Endowment for the Arts: $148 million

    • Arts in Education at the Department of Education: $27 million

    • Cultural Exchanges at the State Department: $102 million

  • The value of the charitable sector-which includes the nonprofit performing arts-as well as the importance of maintaining the full scope and value of the charitable deduction

  • The importance of protecting wireless technology used in the performing arts 

As you work in your communities to organize for action on your most pressing and immediate concerns and advocacy issues, know that PAA is working on the federal-level arts policy issues impacting your daily work as artists and arts organizations. We will keep you informed of our progress, call on you to lend your voices to these national efforts, and help you with resources to connect to your lawmakers.


Mario Garcia Durham

Chair, Performing Arts Alliance