How Cutting Arts, Humanities Affects MI Philanthropy
There have been media reports that President Donald Trump’s administration is considering eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CBP). The proposed cuts are intended to reduce federal spending by trillions over the next decade.
Last week the president of Americans for the Arts sent a letter to the Trump administration requesting funding be preserved for the NEA, NEH and CBP. Americans for the Arts highlights how access to arts and humanities is critical to building equitable communities through developing cultural consciousness, improving the cultural leadership pipeline, generating equity-related research and encouraging lifelong learning.
The NEH provides grants to cultural institutions, such as museums, libraries, colleges and universities, public television and radio stations to facilitate research and strengthen learning opportunities. The NEH focuses on history, ethics, reflecting diverse heritage, traditions and more.
The NEH recently awarded several humanities-based and research grants to Michigan organizations, including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, Western Michigan University and more.
The NEH helps to fund the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC), which is vital to providing quality cultural programming to connect people and communities in Michigan. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds the MHC's Heritage Grants Program which supports projects that explore local histories of race, ethnicity and cultural identity in Michigan.
The CPB, which funds NPR, gives community service grants to public television and radio stations that provide significant public service programming, educational, news, etc. to their communities.
The NEA is a federal agency, with 40 percent of its funds going to arts agencies in states across the country including the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA). The NEA has also awarded millions in grants to Michigan nonprofits, local agencies, arts and culture groups through national initiatives to offer equitable access to the arts.
The NEA recently announced it awarded $30 million to nonprofits and individuals across the country for the first funding round of 2017. Cutting off that pipeline of funding will have an impact on arts, culture and placemaking projects in Michigan and across the country, increasing the need for funding from grantmakers.
Highlights of recent NEA grants to Michigan include:
- Focus: HOPE, Detroit: Funding to support teaching photography skills to students from underserved communities in Detroit.
- City of Lansing: Funding to support the design of an outdoor space to offer a permanent venue for community activities
- Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor: Funding to support an artist-in-residence program at the youth center, where artists work with teens to design a community project and help them share their artistic pieces.
- Center for Community Progress, Flint: Funding to support a project that examines barriers to developing vacant properties, as well as to support a project building knowledge about equitable creative placemaking.
- Allied Media Projects: Funding to support Detroit Future Schools, a curriculum-based project, to integrate media arts programming in Detroit public schools.
- West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, Grand Rapids: Funding to support teens exploring community and social issues using arts and technology, and to develop video game design, fashion, sculpture, etc., as a basis for critical thinking and practical application.
Creative Many, a Michigan nonprofit organization leading advocacy for the arts, is calling for action to protect the NEA. Creative Many’s 2016 Creative State Michigan Report shows how the arts contribute to Michigan’s vitality and economic growth:
- Creative industries employ more than 88,000 Michiganders
- The creative industry generates about $4.9 billion in wages for people in Michigan
To support the NEA and highlight the importance of the arts in Michigan communities, Creative Many recommends inviting legislators to cultural events your grantees may be hosting or supporting, and offer educational information about how the arts have helped your community.
Creative Many is inviting Michigan organizations to share their impact and the need for NEA funding. Creative Many is working on a statewide campaign leading up to the National Arts Advocacy Day to share the importance of the creative industries, we'll share more details as they become available.
Learn more about the Michigan Legislative Creative Caucus
The Fate of 38 Michigan Schools in Limbo
Our state officials are in the process of determining the fate of 38 underperforming Michigan schools. Earlier this month the state's School Reform Office shared the list of the 38 schools that are at risk of closing, the majority are public schools but a few charter schools also made the list. The move could affect as many as 18,000 students in Detroit, Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor, Saginaw and other communities.
It’s a rare move, if the schools are forced to close it will be the first time in our state traditional public schools were closed for academic reasons alone. In 2010 and 2011 the state ordered two charter schools to close their doors.
State officials are reviewing the potential public school closures and will weigh in whether a school closure presents an “unreasonable hardship for children with no better schools to attend.”
If other interventions have failed, legally the state can close schools that have been performing in the bottom 5 percent for at least three consecutive years.
The proposed closures were announced around the time Michigan’s school rankings were revealed by Education Week’s Quality Counts 2017. As CMF previously reported, our state’s education system ranks 34th in the nation.
Meanwhile our state continues crafting its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, that will shape accountability standards, to share with the U.S. Department of Education.
A decision on the fate of the 38 schools is expected by the end of February or early March.
Want to take a deeper dive?
Join CMF and our P-20 Education affinity group for Engaging in the Education Conversation. We will hear from organizations with a proven track record of parent advocacy and how to create opportunities to engage parents in their children’s education.
CMF will share the findings of our state’s 21st Century Education Commission report due out at the end of February.
The School Finance Research Collaborative, comprised of current and former educators, lawmakers, school board members, business and community leaders, launched earlier this month, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Collaborative is focused on building on last summer’s findings of the state’s Michigan Education Finance Study. The Collaborative plans to “generate a more accurate roadmap for school financing in Michigan.” The Collaborative is hiring a contractor to provide an accurate analysis of Michigan’s school financing, with plans to release the results by early 2018.
Dissolving the State Income Tax: More Pressure on Philanthropy?
Our state could be facing a $9.4 billion annual state income revenue loss if the tax is repealed, money that currently goes toward funding essential public services including schools and roads. The potential impact on local governments and nonprofits will likely lead to more pressure on grantmakers.
Those billions of dollars flowing into the state come from Michigan’s state income tax, which House Bill 4001 is aimed to repeal.
If passed, our state would see a decrease in revenue starting next year. There are two proposals; the Michigan House’s plan would drop the state income tax in 2018 from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent, with a 0.1 percent decrease every year until it disappears, which could take decades. The Senate’s plan would ax the income tax more swiftly, within five years.
At $9.4 billion, our state’s income tax makes up nearly 35 percent of Michigan’s $27.2 billion in annual tax revenue.
As MiBiz reports, “Critics are skeptical that such plans would equitably restructure Michigan’s tax code, and say the proposals further jeopardize public services funding in the context of the Flint water crisis and cuts to higher education funding that have led to tuition increases.”
The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) has spoken out against repealing the state income tax. The MLPP released a statement saying that even an income tax reduction of 0.1 percentage point would cost the state around $250 million.
“The water we drink, the schools our kids attend, the roads we drive on and the police officers and firefighters we rely on all depend on state funding and Michigan should be investing in these services,” Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of MLPP said.
The loss in funding could put more pressure on philanthropy to intervene and provide support.
Lawmakers in support of the proposal say eliminating state income tax could make Michigan more attractive and help to grow our population.
Seven states in the U.S. don’t have a statewide income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Michigan would be the first in the Midwest.
Senator Jack Brandenburg, who’s leading the Senate’s plan, said a work group is examining whether Michigan could replace the revenue lost by cutting the income tax and exploring what other states without income taxes do. He told MiBiz “everything is on table” and he hopes to start committee testimony within the next six weeks.
There’s no word yet as to when the bill may be presented in Lansing for a vote.
In the meantime, CMF encourages our members to talk with their local legislators and stress that philanthropy does not have the resources to replace government funding.
For advocacy guidance, check out the resource we highlighted last week.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy launches fund to assist Syrian refugees in Michigan
Content excerpted from a Michigan Radio article, read the full article here.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) launched the Building Blocks for New Americans Fund to assist with basic needs of Syrian refugees resettling in Michigan.
The fundraising campaign has raised more than $50,000 for 25 Syrian refugee families in Southeast Michigan.
The funding goes towards housing, clothes, transportation and other basic needs.
"Having a shelter over their head, paying for the rent, their utilities, warm clothes - nobody is thinking about that and nobody has those line items in their budget," Maha Freij, deputy director and CFO of ACCESS, CAAP’s parent nonprofit organization, said. "The first six to eight months they need some financial support that will allow them to cover their basic needs because the check they get from the government is not enough."
Freij told Michigan Radio that in the last three months of 2016 about 276 refugees resettled in the Detroit area.