2017 Legislative Agenda

2017 Texas Legislative Session Advocacy Priorities 

Texans for the Arts will advocate for the development and implementation of statewide public policy that supports a strong and vibrant arts and cultural industry and access to arts education for students across Texas

On November 8, 2016, the Board of Directors of Texans for the Arts adopted the following four fundamental advocacy priorities for the 85th Texas Legislative Session.  Texans for the Arts is committed to engaging and empowering our citizens to reach out to their Texas legislators and to share their stories and experiences about the power of the arts in their respective communities.  We will work to ensure that Texas legislators understand the importance of the arts in growing our vibrant Texas economy and in educating our children and of the vital need to invest public resources to support this critical work.  Together, we will work to:

1. Support the current provisions of the Texas Tax Code, Chapter 351, regarding the authorized use of the Municipal Hotel Occupancy taxes (“HOT”) that support tourism and the hotel and convention industry by the encouragement, promotion, improvement and application of the arts in all forms, as defined in Chapter 351. Texans for the Arts also advocates for local governments to allocate the Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax’s 15% arts provision to promote and encourage the arts and further Texas’ economic creative industries and its national reputation as a lively, dynamic and thriving cultural tourism destination. Partners: Texas Hotel &Lodging Association, Dallas Arts Advocacy Coalition

2. Support an Amendment to ‘Chapter 351.108 Records’ to require each municipality over population 75,000 to produce an annual HOT report to the State Comptroller clarifying: total Chapter 351 revenues and expenditures; % revenue and total allocations to arts organizations pursuant to 351.101(1)(4); tax rate imposed by the city pursuant to 351.003, and more.  Partners: Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Dallas Arts Advocacy Coalition

3. Ensure the base legislative appropriation for the Texas Commission on the Arts (“TCA”), with a particular focus on maintaining the Cultural & Fine Arts District funding as related to Texans for the Arts’ successful appropriation efforts in the 85th Session. [The TCA successfully passed Sunset review in 2013 and was reauthorized as an independent agency for the next 12 years (SB 202).] According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), Texas ranks 43rd out of the 50 states in per capita funding for the arts. Texas spends $0.28 per capita as compared to an average of $1.11 for all state arts agencies. Minnesota leads the states with $7.08 in per capita arts funding; neighboring states support as follows: Arkansas - $0.54; Oklahoma - $0.75; New Mexico - $0.67; and Louisiana - $0.46. The TCA’s role in state arts funding is vital for its mandate and commitment to maximizing access to the arts across the entire state and for its role in securing the National Endowment for the Arts’ funding in Texas. Partner: Dallas Arts Advocacy Coalition

4. Keep Texas Open for Business: Support legislation and public policy that provides for inclusion and equal treatment across all sectors of our state including, but not exclusive to those policies that affect the arts, business, cultural tourism, travel and all forms of economic activity. Legislation that can be used to discriminate against Texas residents and visitors is projected to have a negative economic impact of as much as $8.5 billion in lost GDP and 185,000 lost jobs, especially from reduced travel and tourism. Inclusion and equal treatment of all members of our society are core values of Texans for the Arts and central to its mission.  Inclusion means a commitment to making all members of our society feel welcome and comfortable. In achieving core values of equity and inclusion, TFA is committed to diversity in every aspect of our society.  Diversity in this context refers to groups, communities and individuals identified by race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, age, or disability status.  Partner: Texas Association of Business, Dallas Arts Advocacy Coalition

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Texans for the Arts, in concert with its partner advocates and allies, will keep a watchful eye on additional priorities, which may change in the months ahead as new legislation is filed and other issues of statewide importance are raised.  These include:

1. Support the education and business community’s commitment in concert with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to ensure “the arts and music” as defined by Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”) include “music, dance, media arts, theatre, and visual arts”, and part of a “well rounded education” and that Texas ensure and promote eligibility access of Title 1, Title 2, and Title 4 funds to support appropriate arts-related activities and programs including professional training for arts educators. 

2. Support the creation of the Texas Arts Impact Legislative Caucus “to promote the value of public investment in the arts and to build consensus around and advance a pro-arts policy and legislative agenda” in the Texas State Legislature.

3. Support and grow membership in the existing Fine Arts Education Caucus to build consensus around and advance a pro-arts-education policy including expanding opportunities and access for all public school students to an arts rich curriculum led by certified arts teachers.

4. Fund the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (Film and Commercial Incentives) at the $70 million level.  Current biennium funding is $24 million. Film incentives are vital for keeping the film business thriving in Texas.  The Texas legislature cut the film incentive program significantly in 2015. The film industry is losing business to neighboring states with higher incentive programs. Partners: Texas Film Commission, City of Fort Worth, City of San Antonio

5. Protect state historic preservation tax credits for both for profit and nonprofit corporations owning historic properties.  Ensure that tax credits continue to incentivize restoration of significant historic interiors, as well as the creation of affordable housing as part of revitalization efforts in historic Texas downtowns.  Partner: Preservation Texas

6. Fund Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program and State Heritage Tourism Programs.  These programs spark economic development and attract cultural tourists.  Data shows the Arts and Culture Tourists stay longer, bring more people, and spend more than the average tourist.   Partner: Preservation Texas

7. Support Proposed Amendments to Texas’ Open Carry Law to exempt arts organizations from the 2015 legislation that allowed individuals to openly carry firearms on publicly-owned property. The law applies to any government-owned property, even if leased to or operated by a non-profit organization.  While Texans for the Arts respects our citizens’ Second Amendment rights, it is important to also balance those interests with a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of visitors, including the hundreds of thousands of children that visit Texans for the Arts' members' events each year on school field trips and family outings. Allowing openly-carried weapons in museums, theaters and other arts venues may also lead to significant declines in attendance and revenue. 

8. Monitor legislative action that impacts the nonprofit sector, such as tax exemptions, regulatory efforts, etc. 

 

Updated 12/9/16