It’s official. As of 10:17 pm tonight, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has passed both houses of Congress, and the arts are invited to the party. Quoth Americans from the Arts, by email:
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.
Well done, everyone. According to the AftA email, 85,000 letters were sent to Congress on this issue, and thousands of calls were made. The email also singles out two members of the committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill for “carr[ying] our voices into the conference negotiation room”: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Appropriations Chair Dave Obey (D-WI). If you live in either of their districts, please send them a thank you note.
UPDATE: This is especially important because many state arts councils are in serious trouble, and officials in Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington are proposing to eliminate state arts funding entirely. The $20 million in this package earmarked for the states will be a significant help in this regard.