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Senate Arts Report Card - Grading Criteria

Americans for the Arts Action Fund graded each member of the Senate on six items to calculate their overall support for the arts. Three of these items were votes, which was notable since there had not been any arts related votes in the Senate since 2000. In addition to the three votes, the Senators were graded on three additional official actions they could have taken to show their support for the arts.

Keeps jobs in the arts
Coburn Amendment to American Recovery & Reinvestment Act
2/6/2009, Passed by a vote of 73-24, Roll Call 51
During Senate consideration of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (“the stimulus bill”) Sen. Coburn offered the following amendment, “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”  This amendment prohibited any of the $787 billion in stimulus funding from being spent in these arts-related areas, including the $50 million that was provided to the National Endowment for the Arts for creation and preservation of jobs in the arts.  The House-Senate conference report dropped “museum, theater, art center” from the final legislation.

Supports public art
First Coburn Amendment to FY10 Consolidated Appropriations Act
9/16/2009, Failed by a vote of 39-59, Roll Call 277
During Senate consideration of appropriations measure that included FY 2010 funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Sen. Coburn offered an amendment to allow states, “to opt out of a provision that requires States to spend 10 percent of their surface transportation funds on enhancement projects such as road-kill reduction and highway beautification.” This amendment if accepted would have terminated the Transportation Enhancement program which provides funding to state transportation agencies for public art, design, and other transportation-related arts projects.

Supports museums
Second Coburn Amendment to FY10 Consolidated Appropriations Act
9/16/2009, Failed by a vote of 41-57, Roll Call 278
During Senate consideration of appropriations measure that including FY 2010 funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Sen. Coburn offered a second amendment that stated, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for a museum.” 

Shows initiative in the arts
Cosponsorship of arts related legislation
Every bill that is voted on in the Senate is put forward or sponsored by a Senator. Often times Senators will ask others to co-sponosor their legislation to show the support that it has even prior to voting.

Active in extracurricular activities
Membership in the Senate Cultural Caucus
Congress is full of a variety of caucuses, which can be thought of a cheerleaders for specific issues. There are caucuses for everything from whiskey to youth sports and the Senate Cultural Caucus represents arts issues in the Senate. Members of the caucus are in no way obligated to vote in support of the issues of the caucuses they sit on but it shows their general support.

Shows leadership in the arts
Signed "Dear Colleague" letter for increased funding to the NEA

Signatures on “Dear Colleague” letter to the Appropriations Committee, asking it to increase funding to the NEA. At times, members of Congress will create “Dear Colleague” letters stating why they support a certain initiative, even if it’s not directly related to a bill. This allows them to have their feelings known even if they aren’t on the committee that might first consider related legislation. These letters are created by an original signatory or two and circulated to their colleagues asking them to sign on as well.

 

Return to the Dirty Dozen

Return to the full 2010 Senate Arts Report Card

Paid for by the Americans for the Arts Action Fund (www.ArtsActionFund.org)
and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

 

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