Friday, February 9, 2024

SDVAN Summary: Americans for the Arts Federal Appropriation Bills - Funding Earmarks for Arts and Culture

 by Patricia Frischer

This American for the Arts webinar invited Harper Downing (Bill Harper and Roberta Downing) lobbyist for specializing in federal policy and congressional appropriations to share their insights. We heard from Randell Reid Smith about his $21/4 million grant for archival facilities at the West Virgina Department of Arts Culture and History, as well as Robert Chelimsky’s $4 grant for a new Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. This is a brief summary of the hour discussion.

Earmarks are money specifically allocated within a bill and are called Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) in the Senate and Community Project Funding (CPF).This year's earmarks are only allowed in the Senate as Arts and Culture earmarks have been banned by Republicans in House.
 This has happened before when all earmark were banned in 2011 but they were brought back in 2021 for non-profits. Although your contact will be with your federal senators, it is also good to have your local House representative know and recommend your project. You need letters of support from a wide range of supporter at the highest level possible.

Local Senators control this process at the start and you can begin by going to Senators’ portals to research their appropriation applications. But it is worth a call first to see if they have any appropriation funds and if so, to make an appointment with the staff.

Use the staff to find out what projects will have preferences and to make sure you know their deadlines for 2025.  If Senator accepts your application, it still needs to be accepted by Appropriation committee. That still needs to be approved in the budget.  This is a long process and although you might not get funding your first year, creating the relationship is the most important thing you can do to help.

There are only 5 of the 12 appropriation subcommittees that are eligible in the arts: Agriculture, Financial Services, Interior Development, Labor, Health, Human Services Education and Transportation Housing Urban Development.

Completion in the fiscal year of your application is not required. Funding might not come after acceptance for even 6 months. For example, 2023 funding is still pending, the deadline for 2024 is over and 2025 deadlines are coming up in March. The Federal year runs Oct 1 of one year to Sept 30 of the next year. It is important not to spend the money until you get funding.

If you succeed, you will work with the federal agency and you may need your Senator for local help. Each federal agency is different and each state has different rules as well so you have to make sure you have correct information on the local level. The good news is that they like to give this money away and even though it is highly competitive, once selected everyone will work hard to support you. 

The following resource page and contact details will be helpful for those wanting to pursue these funds:


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