Entertainers descend on D.C. to support arts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An arts community that’s solidly enamored with the Obama administration — except regarding one key point — will descend on Washington today for the 22nd annual Arts Advocacy Day to promote policies and funding for the arts.

Event at the U.S. Capitol is sponsored by Americans for the Arts, in conjunction with the Congressional Arts Caucus and 83 arts orgs. At least 500 representatives are expected for the occasion that will include a breakfast get-together, a House hearing titled “The Arts = Jobs,” and personal visits with senators and representatives.

Among those on hand will be entertainers Josh Groban, Linda Ronstadt and Wynton Marsalis, as well as Americans for the Arts prexy Robert L. Lynch and Robin Bronk, exec director of the Creative Coalition.

In the midst of the current recession, the Obama administration signaled its support for the arts by inserting $50 million in the economic stimulus package to help nonprofits support and sustain jobs in the arts. In addition, Congress has agreed to allocate $155 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the current fiscal year, a $10 million increase over last year. Both provisions represent a major victory for arts advocates.

“It’s a reinvigorated crowd this year,” says the Creative Coalition’s Bronk, one of the participants. But an important exception to the jubilation is President Obama’s proposal to reduce the level of deductions that wealthy Americans can claim for their charitable donations. The move has drawn bipartisan criticism and was Topic A at a hearing last week before the House Committee on Education and Labor. Reps of nonprofit arts orgs warned the panel that critical fundraising would be jeopardized by the proposal, which comes amid declining budgets and job losses for arts groups.

Committee, chaired by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), is holding a series of hearings on the impact of the creative industries and their vital role in our economy. The panel oversees authorization of the endowments. Tuesday’s hearing on arts jobs will be held by a House Appropriations subcommittee chaired by Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.). Groban, Ronstadt and Marsalis will be among those testifying.

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