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Latest MCA NewsNov 15, 2016
MCA Announces Departure of Executive Director
Arts Funding in Maryland Reaches New Heights for FY 2017
Governor Hogan Proposes Record Funding for the Arts in Maryland
There is much work to be done to ensure that these proposals are adopted by our friends and supporters in the Maryland General Assembly, and we will need every voice we can gather to help make this possible. So take a moment now to register for Maryland Arts Day on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at St. John’s College Key Auditorium in Annapolis.
- FY 2016 Appropriation = $16.7 million
- FY 2017 Appropriation = $17.4 million (1994 Arts Stabilization Bill formulaic increase of 4.2%)
- FY 2017 Special Fund = $2 million
- New Legislation - directs the Special Fund money to the General Fund Appropriation permanently
General Assembly Adjourns: Arts Funding Restored
At 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 13, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned SINE DIE! With the help of hundreds of nonprofit arts organizations and thousands of citizen advocates, Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) succeeded in convincing the Maryland General Assembly to reverse the $800,000 mid-year FY 2015 cut to the State arts grant, and to restore the proposed cut of nearly $1.4 million to the FY 2016 State arts budget.
These results represent a $2.2 million improvement in arts funding for the current and next fiscal years in comparison to the budget proposed in January. This also means that for FY 2016 Maryland will reach a new record level of support for the arts through the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).
MCA is grateful for the leadership and support of the presiding officers, President Miller and Speaker Busch, Senate Budget & Taxation and House Appropriation committee and subcommittee chairs Sen. Kasemeyer, Sen. Madaleno, Del. McIntosh, Del. Proctor, Del. Jones, and Del. Barnes, as well as all the committee and sub-committee members responsible for these historic bipartisan actions.
MCA also thanks Governor Hogan and the leadership of the Department of Business and Economic Development for their encouragement, understanding, and appreciation of the importance of a strong arts sector in Maryland. We will continue to work with the Administration to ensure that Maryland supports and recognizes the critical role the arts play in an economically sound and culturally vibrant state.
In the weeks ahead, MSAC will clarify the sequencing and timing of the FY 2015 grant restoration.
Jan 21, 2015
2015 Maryland General Assembly Committee Assignments Announced
Maryland Citizens for the Arts announces the winner of the 2015 "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award"
BALTIMORE, MD (January 15, 2015) – It is with great pleasure that Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) announces the winner of the 2015 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award:
Brooke Kidd – Founder/Director,
Joe’s Movement Emporium, Prince George’s County
Since 1992, Brooke Kidd has championed community responsive programming at Joe’s Movement Emporium. Her pioneering efforts to utilize the arts in Maryland as a vehicle for progressive education, workforce training and economic growth have made her one of the most well respected arts managers in the region. A vocal advocate for the arts, Kidd has participated in state and national panels to educate and support other leaders involved in community arts service, capacity-building innovations, and arts and entertainment districts.
A winner of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for choreography, Kidd’s successful vision has created a gold standard for community-based arts organizations throughout Maryland. Local families hungry for affordable, quality childcare can find it at Joe’s in their Club Joe’s after-care program. When teens from the neighborhood came to her for jobs, she fashioned a workforce development program to train them for positions in technical theatre and digital media. Her drive and vision anchored an entire arts district – the Gateway Arts District of Prince George’s County – joining small businesses and the arts community in pursuit of economic growth.
Brooke is always looking for opportunities to bring art to both community members and businesses, facilitating events such as a singer in a hair salon, art in a Laundromat, and dancing through an abandoned building. Together with a group of other arts and community-based organizations, she helped land a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and $240,000 grant from ArtPlace America to call attention to the richness of the Gateway Arts District through creative placemaking and business development with the “Art Lives Here” initiative.
Ms. Kidd founded Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier, MD after graduation from American University with a B.A. interdisciplinary degree in Dance, Anthropology and African Studies, as well as a B.A. in International Relations. Ms. Kidd also holds an M.A. in Dance, having completed a thesis titled “Revitalizing Community through Dance.” The concept of Joe’s Movement Emporium was based on “open-door-oriented” arts centers she experienced while studying in Cameroon. It became a place where every “Joe,” – no matter their race, gender, age, or ability – could move!
Now in its sixth year, the Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award honors an individual whose work has had lasting impact on the state of public funding for the arts at all levels of government. Named for Sue Hess, a founding trustee of MCA, the award exemplifies a commitment to civic engagement on behalf of the arts sector, ensuring strong public support and public policy for the arts. The award will be presented at the annual Maryland Arts Day on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at the President’s Conference Center in the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis. To attend, please register at www.mdarts.org.
Maryland Citizens for the Arts is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1977 to advocate for public support for the arts. MCA works to serve the entire Maryland arts sector by representing its needs to state and federal government and by working to support the organizational capacity of artists and arts organizations, thereby making them stronger stewards of both public and private investment.Jun 30, 2014
Matthew Gallagher elected Chair of Maryland Citizens for the Arts Board of Trustees
Baltimore, MD, (July 1, 2014) At Maryland Citizens for the Arts’ (MCA) annual meeting on June 19, 2014, the Board of Trustees elected Matthew D. Gallagher, President and CEO of The Goldseker Foundation, to be its Chair. Mr. Gallagher, the former Chief of Staff to Governor Martin O’Malley, begins his three-year term as Chair on July 1, 2014.
Mr. Gallagher succeeds Douglas R. Mann, Vice President and CFO at Maryland Institute College of Art, who has lead the organization for six years. “I couldn’t be more pleased that Matt is taking over as chair of the MCA board,” said Mann. “He’ll be a strong and credible advocate for the arts with our elected officials in Annapolis and across the entire state. He’ll also provide great leadership to not only MCA, but to the entire arts community.”
At the same meeting, MCA’s Board elected two new voting members and filled an open ex-officio position. Director of The Walters Art Musuem, Julia Marciari-Alexander, begins a three-year term, as does Maryland Bar Association Legislative Director, Richard Montgomery III. April Nyman, Director of the Anne Arundel Arts Council begins her term as the representative for the Community Arts Agencies of Maryland (CAAM) on MCA’s board, fostering a stronger connection between MCA’s work and the work of Maryland’s 24 local Arts Councils.
Mr. Gallagher became President and CEO of The Goldseker Foundation in the summer of 2013 after serving as Governor O’Malley’s Chief of Staff since 2009. In that role, he managed the day-to-day activities of the executive branch of Maryland State government, including 18 major cabinet agencies and the Governor’s Office. Prior that, Mr. Gallagher served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor and as the Director of CitiStat, Baltimore’s nationally recognized public sector accountability program, while part of Mayor O’Malley’s Cabinet from 2000 – 2007.
Ms. Marciari-Alexander recently completed her first year as Director at The Walters and has engaged locally, regionally and nationally in arts advocacy on behalf of the museum and for her colleagues across the state. She is the former Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the San Diego Art Museum where she also served as interim co-Director from 2009-2010 and Deputy Director for Education from 2010-2011. A specialist in the arts and visual culture of Britain and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, she holds a PhD in the History of Art from Yale University and an MA in French Literature from NYU.
Mr. Montgomery has directed Legislative and Governmental Relations for the Maryland State Bar Association since 2003. He served as Deputy Legislative Director for Maryland Governors William Donald Schaefer and Parris N. Glendening. He sits on the Boards of Art with a Heart, Charm City Youth Lacrosse, National Association of Bar Executives and Baltimore’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.) Mr. Montgomery is a Baltimore native who currently resides in Annapolis. He received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is an avid photographer, both digital and film.
Ms. Nyman fills an Ex-Officio position on MCA’s board created to encourage partnership between MCA and the 24 local arts councils representing all 23 Maryland counties and the city of Baltimore. She has been the director of the Anne Arundel Arts Council since 2007. April brought years of experience in marketing and event planning to the job. She currently serves as the Chair of the Community Arts Agencies of Maryland (CAAM). A 2010 “Anne Arundel Woman of the Year”, Ms. Nyman has three children, all of whom are actively engaged in the arts. She has served on MCA’s Events Committee for two years helping to plan successful events like ArtsLAB and Maryland Arts Day.
John Schratwieser, MCA’s Executive Director is thrilled with the additions. “From the election of our new Chair, Matt Gallagher, to the addition of these three wonderfully strong voices for the arts, MCA takes another step forward in its journey to support the greatest state-wide arts sector in the country. From the mountains, to the cities, to the eastern shore, the arts are thriving in Maryland, driving economic impact, tourism and community revitalization. These new trustees, and our new Chair, are wonderful additions to the dedicated team of volunteers and advocates that really make MCA succeed!”
Maryland Citizens for the arts was founded in 1977 to represent a unified voice for public support for the arts in Maryland. It’s mission is to promote the broad understanding and support of the arts sector in our state, and all it does to drive economic vitality and cultural well-being for the citizens we serve.Apr 09, 2014
FY 2015 Budget News
At midnight at April 7th, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 2014 session SINE DIE (Latin for "without day" or for an indefinite period- in this case, until the 2015 session).
The outcomes for our sector are both exciting and, unfortunately, somewhat disappointing. So, let's start with the good news! As you know, in his FY2015 Budget, Governor Martin O'Malley proposed a 5% increase in the General Fund appropriation for the Maryland State Arts Council. This 5% is equal to about $800,000 and brings the appropriation to its highest ever, $16.2 million; clearly this is well worth celebrating for it is this appropriation that translates into operating grants for more than 260 arts organizations across Maryland as well as other key programs of the Arts Council.
Another exciting outcome is the expansion of the definition of a "qualified residing artist" under the state's Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District law. The law restricted the income tax subtraction modification benefit to only artists who lived in the county/city where the A&E district was located, and could only be applied to art created and sod in that same district. With the Governor's signature, this change will allow ANY Maryland resident to take advantage of this credit on work created and sold in ANY of Maryland's 22 A&E districts. This should be a great boost for all of the A&E districts for further revitalization and certainly helps working artists from all over Maryland who may now choose to create and sell their art in any A&E district in the state.
Now, for the disappointing new- In the waning hours of the 2014 General Assembly Session, a deal was struck to increase the amount of available Film Tax credit in Maryland from the $7.5 million that was proposed by the Governor, to $15 million (and potentially, to $18.5 million). To do that, the funding which the Governor directed in his budget to the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts, for both the current fiscal year and next fiscal year, will now be made available for the Maryland Film Tax Credit, and is therefore not available for its intended purpose. This is particularly stinging to the arts community in that these funds were specifically set aside for the purpose of helping out sector strengthen its organizational capacity and fiscal stability to better serve our citizens and to be better stewards of Maryland's wonderful public investment in the arts.Jan 22, 2014
Maryland Citizens for the Arts announces the winner of the 2014 "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award"
BALTIMORE, MD (January 21, 2014) – It is with great pleasure that Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) announces the winner of the 2014 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year:
Fred Lazarus IV - President, Maryland Institute College of Art.
Mr. Lazarus has, over the last four decades, had a lasting impact on arts advocacy at the City, State and Federal levels.
A founding chair of both Americans for the Arts and the National Coalition for Education in the Arts, Mr. Lazarus has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in advocating for the arts and arts education at the federal level. In Maryland, in addition to serving as MICA’s president since 1978, he has chaired the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, was a Founding Trustee of the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Baltimore Design School, and has served on such boards as the American Visionary Art Museum, Maryland Art Place, and the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property.
Across the state of Maryland and the nation, Mr. Lazarus’ leadership and innovation are responsible for strong policies and practices supporting the artists, arts administrators and arts organizations. His understanding of, and commitment to partnerships on the local, regional and national level assures that he stands out among arts advocates, simply by practicing what he preaches.
“Maryland’s quality of life is among the best in the world, and I believe it is because of the commitment its citizens have made to support the arts and culture,” said Lazarus. “We have proven that our focus on innovation and creativity has directly led to leadership in education, commerce, advocacy, and many other forms of human endeavor. I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the many Marylanders I have collaborated with to advance our shared belief that the arts indispensably elevate our collective human experience."
Douglas Mann, Board Chair of MCA, recognized Mr. Lazarus’ great achievements this way: “Artists and arts organizations across the state have benefited immeasurably from Fred’s efforts over the past four decades. His entrepreneurial spirit has helped make the arts a centerpiece of success in Maryland’s educational system, economy and quality of life. The breadth and depth of his impact in Maryland is unparalleled and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to honor him this year at Maryland Arts Day.”
Now in it’s sixth year, the Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year award honors someone whose work has had lasting impact on the state of public funding for the arts at all levels of government. Named for Sue Hess, a founding trustee of MCA, the award exemplifies a commitment to civic engagement on behalf of the arts sector, ensuring strong public support and public policy for the arts. The award will be presented at the annual Maryland Arts Day on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at the President’s Conference Center in the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis.
Maryland Citizens for the Arts is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1977 to advocate for public support for the arts. MCA works to serve the entire Maryland arts sector by representing its needs to state and federal government and by working to support the organizational capacity of artists and arts organizations, thereby making them stronger stewards of both public and private investment.
Jan 16, 2014
Governor O'Malley's FY 2015 Budget Proposal
As of January 16, 2014: Yesterday, Governor Martin O'Malley introduced his 8th and final Maryland State Budget, for Fiscal Year 2015, and in that budget public support for the arts reaches an all-time high in Maryland! He has made $3 million in additional funding available to Maryland's arts organizations. Here's how it plays out in the Budget, according to Senate Bill 170:
The General Fund Appropriation for MSAC has an increase of $1 million from $15.2 million in FY14 to $16.2 million in FY15. (Also included in the MSAC total budget is interagency funding and the NEA match bringing their total budget to a record $17.1 million.)
The Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts is funded at $2 million in FY15. Also, immediately upon passage of the budget, $500,000 will be available to MSAC for the current fiscal year (FY14) to be awarded through their new grant program created for this fund. AND... There is NO PRFA language re-directing or cutting those funds. (This, of course, means our work last session to keep this fund alive, all the more valuable.)
This will mean a record breaking $19 million year for arts funding, with MSAC's total budget at $17.1 million, and $2 million for special fund supplemental grants focused on organizational capacity building for arts organizations.
Budget hearings are scheduled with the Senate Subcommittee on Thursday, January 23 (RSVP here to attend) , and with House Subcommittee on Thursday, February 4 (RSVP here to attend). Click here for more information on these hearings.
Stay Tuned… and Stay informed.Nov 25, 2013
MCA to Honor Governor O'Malley at Maryland Arts Day 2/12/2014
During his two terms in office and throughout the deepest recession since the great depression, Governor Martin O’Malley has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to the arts in Maryland. For this, and for his visionary leadership, Maryland Citizens for the Arts will present Governor Martin O’Malley with their “Outstanding Leadership in the Arts” award, created just for this occasion at the 2014 Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis on February 12th.
“Funding the arts at any level of government takes commitment and an appreciation of the far reaching benefits that a strong arts sector brings to a city, a state and a nation,” said Doug Mann, Chair of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. “Governor O’Malley had not only the vision, but the courage to support the arts throughout the recession and his entire time in office. He knows how important a strong arts sector is not only to the state’s economy, but to the education of our children, the strength of our communities and to the overall quality of life in our great state. It’s for this vision and commitment that for the first time in its forty year history, Maryland Citizens for the Arts has chosen to bestow this special honor to the Governor.”
After protecting the State Arts Council’s budget throughout the recession, Governor O’Malley’s dedication to the arts was recently demonstrated again in his fiscal year 2014 budget in which he increased the General Fund appropriation for the State Arts Council by 15%. Furthermore, the Governor continues to support the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts that provides critical supplemental grants, which support the organizational capacity and fiscal stability of our arts organizations.
From his first day in office, Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) has worked with Governor O’Malley and his staff to ensure this commitment remains strong and effective. Today the non-profit arts sector is a $1 billion industry in Maryland that supports more than 11,000 jobs across the state. This industry serves as community-building partners and drives economic activity that supports small businesses in every county.
“I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of moms, dads and children across the state of Maryland, “ said Governor O’Malley. “This organization understands what we all understand—that the arts, humanities and STEM fields are all connected—and spur the type of growth we want and need in our state. Each great work a Marylander creates brings us one step closer to the world we envision for future generations.”
Serving not only as an economic engine but also as a force to strengthen communities and enrich the lives of millions of Marylanders, the arts are an essential component of our daily lives. MCA’s Executive Director John Schratwieser sums it up this way, “Governor O’Malley has always been committed to moving Maryland forward. His leadership has demonstrated strength of conviction unmatched in our country; a conviction that the arts are an integral part of who we are as Marylanders, and as human beings. We could not be more proud of or more grateful to our Governor.”
Maryland Citizens for the Arts is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to raising the level of public understanding of and public support for the arts and the critical role they play in the education of our children, and the economic vitality and cultural wellbeing of Maryland.
Sep 30, 2013
As of September 27: Matthew Gallagher, Governor O’Malley’s former Chief of Staff, has joined the Board of Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA).
Mr. Gallagher recently became President and CEO of The Goldseker Foundation after serving as Governor O’Malley’s Chief of Staff since 2009. In that role, he managed the day-to-day activities of the executive branch of Maryland State government, including 18 major cabinet agencies and the Governor’s Office. Prior that, Mr. Gallagher served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor and in then Mayor O’Malley’s Cabinet from 2000 to 2007 as the Director of CitiStat, Baltimore’s nationally recognized public sector accountability program.
Mr. Gallagher said: “I’m looking forward to working with the Board and staff of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, an organization that’s worked tirelessly for years to make Maryland’s arts community one of the best in the country. A strong and diverse arts sector is crucial to not only our state’s economy and education of our children, but is central to maintaining the high quality of life we have in Maryland as well. I’m excited to be able to play a role in helping to keep the arts thriving in Maryland.”
Doug Mann, Chair of MCA’s Board said “Matt brings a wealth of experience in the public sector, has enormous credibility throughout the General Assembly and State Government, and has a real appreciation for the important role the arts play in Maryland. His presence on our advocacy team will make an extraordinary difference, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him.”
In addition to Mr. Gallagher, Mr. Gregan Crawford and Mr. Steven Richard are also joining the MCA Board. Mr. Crawford is a member of the Board of County Commissioners in Garrett County, a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, and owns a furniture making company in Oakland, MD. He also currently serves on the Legislative Committee of the Maryland Association of Counties
Stephen Richard is the Managing Director of Centerstage in Baltimore. Mr. Richard brings a depth of experience in nonprofit arts management, fundraising and advocacy to MCA. Before coming to Baltimore, he was Vice President, External Relations, for the National Children’s Museum, and previously served 18 years as Executive Director of Arena Stage, where he planned and managed the theater’s $125 million capital campaign for the Mead Center for American Theatre. He has served on boards and committees at the National Endowment for the Arts, American Arts Alliance and Theatre Communications Group.
“All of us at MCA are excited by the vast combined experience of these new trustees” said John Schratwieser, Executive Director, “their accomplished careers in the arts and in government will serve them well as they lend their voices to MCA’s ongoing campaign for the arts in our state.”
Doug Mann, MCA Board Chair, appreciates the significant contributions these three individuals bring to an already strong and dedicated Board of Trustees. “In Matt, Gregan and Stephen, MCA significantly increases its range and ability to strengthen the arts in cities and towns, large and small, across the entire state.”
Maryland Citizens for the Arts was founded in 1977 to represent all Maryland artists and arts organizations of all disciplines. It works to increase public recognition and support of the arts and the critical role they play in the education of our children, the economic vitality our state and the quality of life of our citizens.
For more information on MCA’s Board of Trustees or their advocacy and service activities, please visit www.mdarts.org.Apr 15, 2013
The 2013 Maryland General Assembly Session adjourned on Monday, April 8th with many accomplishments of which Maryland Arts Advocates should be VERY proud.
1) The General Fund Appropriation for the Maryland State Arts Council for FY 2014 will be $15.2 million. This is the $2 million (15%) increase, after three years of level funding, which you all fought so hard for at Maryland Arts Day and throughout the Session.
2) The Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts SURVIVED conference committee. After being renewed without a “sunset” during the 2012 Session, this year’s Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act included a provision to strip the fund of its revenue source, thereby ending the fund. When the House and Senate disagreed in their positions, the Fund went to Conference Committee where the Senate position held, sending the FY2013 revenue back to the General Fund, but keeping the revenue stream in place to supply the Special Fund in future years.
3) The Public Art Revisions bill cleared its final hurdle and passed the Senate on the final day of session. These revisions call for public art in all new state buildings. They bring the Artist to the table at the very first stage of design. They also name the Maryland Public Art Commission as the owner and caretaker of the works created.
_Mar 14, 2013
FY 2014 Budget News
As of March 14, 2013: Both the House Appropriations and Senate Budget & Taxation Committees have approved the Governor's recommended General Fund Increase of $2 million dollars for the arts in FY 2014! Final step is a floor vote on the full budget in both houses sometime between now and April 1 - the Budget Bill deadline date.
As for the BRFA, the House Appropriations Committee chose to accept the proposal to remove the funding stream for the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts. However, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee amended the bill to reject this recommendation. This portion of the BRFA will now go to conference. MCA is waiting to learn the conferees and the timing of that meeting as we plan our advocacy strategy.
_Feb 06, 2013
Maryland Citizens for the Arts is pleased to announce the winner of the 2013 "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award"
Ms. Susan S. Farr
The Sue Hess Award is presented at Maryland Arts Day to an individual whose advocacy efforts have significantly increased support for and public recognition of the arts in Maryland.
Susie Farr is a nationally recognized arts administrator and arts advocate with significant experience in all areas of performing arts management, both in the national nonprofit arena and at the university level. She came to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in 1999 from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, where she served as executive director for 13 years. During her tenure there, she administered the National Task Force on Presenting and Touring the Performing Arts, an 18-month project that brought together arts professionals from around the country to address the complex issues facing the arts and culture in America. The resulting report, An American Dialogue, presented a vision for the arts in American communities that became a touchstone for performing arts professionals nationwide.
During her tenure at the Clarice Smith Center, Ms. Farr instilled a passion for fostering collaborative and meaningful relationships between the Center, the University of Maryland, and the diverse communities of Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties. From the beginning Ms. Farr displayed a strong commitment to accessible programming. The Center is now presenting more than 600 free events annually reaching thousands of Marylanders.
She has earned a reputation for adventuresome programming and community engagement. She has extensive experience in creating and administering new initiatives in support of audience development, diversity and arts advocacy. She has served as a panelist on numerous review panels for state arts agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts and has served on the boards of Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS, The National Jazz Service Organization, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and Miriam’s Kitchen, a breakfast program for the homeless. She was twice selected by Washingtonian magazine for its list of “Washington’s 100 Most Powerful Women” (2002 and 2006).
-Jan 19, 2013
FY 2014 Budget News: Funding Increase Proposed for FY14
As of January 16, 2013: In his FY 2014 Budget submitted to the Maryland General Assembly, Governor Martin O’Malley has increased arts funding by $2 million in his proposed General Fund appropriation to the Maryland State Arts Council. The proposed budget is $15.2 million.
After three years of level funding which carried the arts sector in Maryland through turbulent economic times, there is hope that this increase, once secured, will bring much needed relief to arts organizations that continue to struggle throughout the state.
MCA has already launched into campaign mode to protect this increase from any potential cuts during the 2013 Legislative Session.
Currently budget hearings are scheduled in the House of Delegates on Thursday, January 31 and in the Senate on Monday, February 4. Please check the schedule here and sign up to attend.
MCA will also be monitoring a proposal in the 2014 Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act to sweep FY 2013 and FY 2014 funds from the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts into the General Fund.
Stay Tuned… and Stay informed.
_Jan 18, 2013
Governor O'Malley Receives American's for the Arts 'Public Leadership in the Arts' Award'
On Friday, January 18, 2013: Americans for the Arts Presented Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley with the "Public Leadership in the Arts" award at the annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in Washington DC. Governor O'Malley is the only person to win this award twice, he won it as Mayor of Baltimore several years ago. In his remarks, the Governor touted the proposal to increase arts funding in his FY 2014 budget because, he said, "in Maryland we're about doing more… More Jobs and More Art!" MCA Trustees, Doreen Bolger (Vice Chair) and Theresa Cameron attended the event along with MCA Executive Director John Schratwieser, MSAC Executive Director Theresa Colvin, MSAC Board President Barbara Bershon and Assistant Secretary Hannah Byron of the Department of Business and Economic Development.
(Photo provided by the US Conference of Mayors)
_Jun 12, 2012
FY 2013 Budget News: Arts Funding Secure After Special Session
As of May 17, 2012: Yesterday the General Assembly adjourned its Special Session, with both houses passing the governor’s bill package with no changes. This confirms that the so called “Doomsday” budget is no longer, and it also confirms that the LEVEL FUNDING for which you all fought so hard this year, is secure. In addition, the renewed Special Fund for the Preservation of the Cultural Arts is also secure. This culminates a long and difficult legislative season where more than $1 billion in cuts needed to be made to balance the budget. Thanks to all of you for your active participation in the advocacy process, the arts sector comes out of this session with a victory! Our colleagues around the country continue to see deep cuts and threatened vetoes to arts funding. It is our collaborative, state-wide, and consistent messaging that keeps Maryland at the forefront of public investment in the arts.
The Special Fund renews in FY 2013 (No funds remained for FY 12.) The State Arts Council is working to develop guidelines and processes related to potential grants from this fund to support organizational capacity and fiscal stability in arts organizations and county arts councils. MCA has worked closely with key lawmakers in both houses to ensure the continuation of this fund. We are grateful to all who helped us secure its renewal.
The General Assembly may have adjourned but ARTS ADVOCACY does not end here. Now, more than ever, your direct communication with your representatives, about the programs and services you are providing in your communities is critical. With summer arts festivals in every corner of the state, summer arts camps for children and adults, and major arts initiatives being planned across Maryland, we must keep up the effort. Call, write, visit your representative – or better yet, INVITE them to a show, rehearsal, opening, recital, etc! Get them involved and show them the direct benefits of their support of public arts funding!
_Apr 12, 2012
FY 2013 Arts Budget News
The 2012 General Assembly adjourned on Monday night. Unfortunately, the two houses could not agree on a revenue package before the midnight deadline, and as such, lawmakers adopted what is being referred to as the “Doomsday” Budget for FY 2013. It includes $512 million in additional cuts. One of the cost saving measures of the approved budget is an across the board 8% cut to state agency operating expenses. In order to avoid these cuts, a special session would be necessary. MCA will stay informed about post-session budget news and we’ll let you know when there are developments.
Prior to Monday evening’s vote, the General Assembly did approve the Governor’s recommendation to fund the arts at the same level as last year. This is a significant achievement and you should be very proud—this funding is secure because of you! By attending Maryland Arts Day, writing, calling or visiting your representatives in Annapolis, you join in a strong, state-wide network of grassroots advocates who are committed to the arts for all they do for Maryland. And, although the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012 (BRFA) did not result in a small increase for the arts, lawmakers did remove the five year “mandate relief” provision. This means that as the economy continues to recover, the Arts sector would not have to wait until FY 2017 for its next mandated increase. Congratulations all around.
There is another piece of good news. Lawmakers did pass a bill renewing the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts (created in 2009 and originally scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2012.) Grants from this Fund are designed to help arts institutions build organizational capacity and fiscal stability. The fund is renewed without a sunset date. Grants will be processed and distributed by the Maryland State Arts Council. MCA worked closely with Senate and House leaders to ensure the renewal of this Special Fund and to better define its purpose.
_Jan 23, 2012
Maryland Arts Day 2012, Official Press Release
Please click here to read the official press release announcement about the 2012 Maryland Arts Day.
The release contains information about our keynote speaker, Maryland theater artist and filmmaker Bashi Rose, performer, 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellow Warner Williams, as well as the recipient of the 2012 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award - Toby Orenstein.
Further information about Maryland Arts Day can be found on the Arts Day webpage.
_Dec 07, 2011
Maryland Arts Day 2012
Maryland Arts Day is Wednesday, February 8, 2012! Save the date NOW for the most important arts advocacy event of the year!
*** Update: Registration will be avaliable online Thursday, December 8th. Visit our Maryland Arts Day page to register for Maryland Arts Day 2012! ***
-Sep 16, 2011
MCA Announces New Trustees
As MCA begins its new fiscal year, we welcome four new trustees from around Maryland. Joining our Board of Trustees are (in alphabetical order) Aaron Bryant (Baltimore), Erik Neil, Ph.D. (Talbot), Cheryl Nemazie (Wicomico) and Everett J. Santos (Anne Arundel).
Mr. Bryant is the Director of the James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University. He is a Smithsonian Fellow and an Ann Wylie Fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park. Mr. Bryant has a BA from Duke, and MFA from Yale and is currently working on a PhD at University of Maryland.
Mr. Neil is the Executive Director of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD. New to Maryland, Mr. Neil has been running museums since 1999 and is a trained art historian with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Universities. Since coming to Easton from the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, NY, Mr. Neil has been focused on the Academy’s education and outreach programs.
Ms. Nemazie is a documentary, fine art and commercial photographer. She currently serves as the Board Chair at the Art Institute and Gallery in Salisbury, MD and has been honored for her work by the American Society of Media Photographers.
Mr. Santos comes to MCA from Annapolis where he also serves on the board of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Mr. Santos served over 20 years with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, as Director, Department of Investments, Infrastructure, Director, Department of Investments, Latin America and as Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel. Prior to joining the IFC, Mr. Santos worked with USAID and the Central Bank of Brazil. Mr. Santos was recently visiting professor at SAIS (John Hopkins University) on private equity in emerging markets.
All of us are MCA are delighted to welcome these new trustees as we prepare our advocacy initiatives and strategies for the 2012 General Assembly Session and strengthen our outreach and educational efforts throughout the state all year long.
Click here to see the full list of FY12 MCA Trustees.
Apr 22, 2011
Arts Community Participates in Memorial for William Donald Schaefer
This week Maryland lost one if its greatest arts supporters, Governor William Donald Schaefer. During his many years of public service, as City Council Member and then Mayor of Baltimore, Governor and later Comptroller of Maryland, Governor Schaefer made outstanding contributions to the arts. While on the Baltimore City Council, Schaefer wrote and secured the passage of the 1964 Baltimore City Percent for Art Ordinance. As Mayor he created the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Arts and Culture and significantly increased city funding of the arts. It was under his leadership that ARTSCAPE was inaugurated. As Governor, Schaefer created the Governor's Commission of the Future of the Arts in Maryland in 1992. In 1994, he signed into law the Arts Stabilization Act - a landmark piece of legislation ensuring ongoing protection of arts funding in Maryland. His heart was in the arts, he just did it!
As part of a statewide celebration of Governor Schaefer's life, there will be a cortege procession through Baltimore on Monday, April 25. The cortege will make several stops throughout the city where tokens of appreciation (in the form of African Violets, the Governor's favorite flower) will be presented to an honor guard by such organizations as the Baltimore Ravens, the Baltimore Orioles, the Women's Civic league and more. The arts community will share its token during a stop at the Washington Monument at Mt. Vernon Square between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. There will be no formal remarks and all are invited. If you can be here in Baltimore to celebrate his legacy, please join us. It is suggested that people arrive by 3:15, as the arrival of the cortege could move a few minutes in either direction. You can check MCA's Facebook Event Page for updates.
Maryland Arts Day 2011, Official Press Release
Please click here to read the official press release announcement about the 2011 Maryland Arts Day.
The release contains information about our keynote speaker, acclaimed editorial cartoonist KAL Kallaugher, as well as the recipient of the 2011Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award - E. Scott Johnson.
Further information about Maryland Arts Day can be found on the Arts Day webpage.
Recipient of 2011 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Announced
The Award Commitee has selected E. Scott Johnson from a pool of very worthy nominees as the 2011 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year. The award will be presented to Mr. Johnson during Maryland Arts Day on February 9, 2011, at the MIller Senate Building in Annapolis.
The Chair of Intellectual Property Group at Ober|Kaler, E. Scott Johnson is a long-time supporter of the arts in Maryland. He is a former chair of the Maryland State Arts Council, and past president of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Maryland Lawyers for the Arts, CityLit Project, and Young Audiences of Maryland. He is a co-founder and current chair of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, and served on the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Film Production Workgroup.
The 2011 Award Committee consisted of:
Christopher West, Chair
For more information on the award, please contact MCA.
Dec 09, 2010
Call for Nominations-Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award - EXTENDED DEADLINE
MCA is calling for nominations for the "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award." The Hess Award is named after the first chair of MCA's Board of Trustees the longest serving member of the organization; it is given to an individual whose advocacy efforts have significantly increased support for and public recognition of the arts in Maryland.
Sue Hess has been a leader and staunch defender of the arts in Maryland for more than 30 years. Over the years, she has been instrumental in driving the tremendous change and growth in MCA On behalf of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Sue will be presenting the award to an individual whose advocacy efforts have significantly benefited the arts community of Maryland.
The annual award is now entering its third year. Past recipients were James Gillespie, then Executive Director of the Salisbury-Wicomico Arts Council, and Nancy Haragan, founder of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and pictured to the right accepting the award at Maryland Arts Day in 2010.
The "Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year" nomination forms are due to MCA by December 30, 2010. The award ceremony will take place during the 2011 Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis in early February. Candidates must be Maryland residents and be active as an arts advocate for a Maryland arts organization. Please see the nomination form for further eligibility requirements.
**UPDATE: The deadline for nominations has been extended to Wednesday, January 19, 2010. All nomination forms must be in the MCA office no later than 4pm on the 19th in order to be considered for the Award. Please contact the MCA Office with any questions.
Pre-Legislative Session Briefings Will Take Place Across Maryland
As part of our continual efforts to keep the public informed, MCA is organizing four of our annual Pre-Legislative Session Briefings in December at locations all across the state. At these one-hour meetings, MCA staff and Board members will present our arts advocacy strategy for the 2011 Maryland Legislative Session (which runs from mid-January until mid-April). There will also be time for questions.
The more people who get involved, the greater the potential for success. Art supporters across the state have made a huge difference in the past few years by joining us in our advocacy efforts. The approaching 2011 Legislative Session promises to be another challenging one for arts funding as the state faces another large projected deficit and widespread cuts are anticipated. We need to have as many people as possible involved in advocating for the arts to ensure the arts budget does not get cut. Please consider attending a Pre-Legislative Session Briefing to find out how you can help preserve arts funding for organizations and artists in Maryland!
MCA's Upcoming Events in October
Join MCA in celebrating National Arts & Humanities Month this October. There are several new and exciting events this month. First up is a Creative Conversation hosted by our Emerging Arts Advocates committee. On October 8th, we are having a happy hour & discussion event at ick O'Shea's Irish Pub in Baltimore. Please visit our calendar or the Facebook event page for more details and to RSVP. This discussion is being organized in conjunction with a special presentation by author and futurist David Houle happening that same afternoon. The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), one of MCA's partner organizations, is presenting Mr. Houle at the Walters Art Museum to speak about 'Arts and Culture in the Shift Age,' in refernce to his acclaimed book The Shift Age. To find out more about GBCA's event, please visit here.
The Emerging Arts Advocates event is a Creative Conversation, being hosted as part of an effort by Americans for the Arts (another of MCA's partner organizations) to help create open conversations on the arts for emerging leaders all across the U.S. during the month of October, which is National Arts & Humanities Month.
Next up for MCA in october are two free Bond Bill Training Sessions. We are hosting one in Annapolis on October 20th, and one in Baltimore on October 26th. Join MCA Board Chairman Doug Mann and MCA Board Vice-Chair Delegate Adrienne Jones (Chair of the House Appropriations Capital Budget Subcommittee) as they describe the process of applying for a capital project legislative bond bill through the Maryland General Assembly. These events are free and are open to all arts organizations and members of the arts community. Please RSVP if you plan to attend so we can send you further details. To find out more about the events, visit MCA's calendar or our facebook page for the Annapolis and Baltimore sessions.
Arts Step Up for State Employees - 3rd Year Launch!
MCA has launched our successful Arts Step Up for State Employees program for the third year in a row. Arts organizations in Maryland are, as always, committed to supporting the furloughed state workers.
Through the end of fiscal year 2011 (June 30, 2011) Maryland State employees are able to receive free gifts, discounted event tickets, and other special deals by showing their State ID badges at arts organizations across Maryland. It is a small, but meaningful, gesture of support from the creative sector of the state towards those who have been furloughed due to the economic difficulties facing our communities.
This year, more organizations than ever before are particpating and we are adding more every week! Please keep checking the Arts Step Up page for additional and updated special offers in the weeks and months ahead. To read more about the program, check out our official Press Release.
MCA Announces Four New Trustees
The Board of Trustees of Maryland Citizens for the Arts is pleased to announce the appointment of four new board members. At its June 2010 meeting, the Board elected Jose Dominguez, Blake Robison, Darcey Schoeninger and Andy Vick.These new trustees represent Western, Central and
MCA Hires New Executive Director: John Schratwieser
The Board of Directors of Maryland Citizens for the Arts has appointed Mr. John Schratwieser as its new Executive Director. After conducting a national search that began in February, Mr. Schratwieser was chosen from a pool of over 70 highly qualified applicants
Douglas Mann, Chair of the MCA Board said:"We're very excited to have someone of John's caliber coming on to lead our organization.In addition to his impressive track record of success, he brings a high level of professionalism and commitment to the arts. He has the experience to strengthen and expand our grassroots network of arts advocates across the state, and the skills to effectively convey our message about the importance of State Arts Council funding to our elected officials. Maryland's rich and diverse arts community is one of our state's genuine treasures and is central to the economic vitality and quality of life in our state. John's leadership will be pivotal to MCA's year round efforts to ensure state funding is maximized and the financial stability of the arts sector is enhanced."
During Mr. Schratwieser’s 17 years in the non-profit sector, his primary focus has been management, development and operations of arts organizations. In this capacity, he has the valuable experience of working with urban, suburban and rural artists and arts groups – all of which are critical parts of the Maryland arts community . His most recent experience was with the Prince Theatre Foundation in Chestertown, MD which grew and prospered significantly under his leadership.He’s also been with Lincoln Center Theatre in New York and the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.
Mr. Schratwieser said:"For several years I advocated for the arts in rural Maryland, building coalitions among arts organizations to strengthen the cultural offerings on the Eastern Shore. I could not be more excited about drawing on my varied experience, coupled with a career in nonprofit management, to go to work on behalf of arts organization and artists across our great state."
Schratwieser received his B.A. from Fairfield University and his M.P.A. from The George Washington University. In addition to his academic and management credentials, he has a first-hand appreciation for the arts, having been an occasional performer at venues in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
For more information, see our Press Release.
May 06, 2010
Send your Legislator an Email Thanking them for Preserving Arts Funding for 2011!
The legislative session has ended, and the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) has been allocated the same $13.3 million for Fiscal Year 2011 as it received in Fiscal Year 2010. In such difficuly economic times, not to receive a funding cut to important granting programs of the MSAC is a huge victory for the Arts in Maryland!
It's now time to take a moment and thank the members of the Maryland General Assembly for recognizing the importance of the arts to the citizens of Maryland.
Please send an e-mail to your elected officials, which you can easily do by clicking here. You only need to submit one e-mail, and it will automatically be sent to your senator and delegates, as well as to all members of the House and Senate subcommittees which voted to fund the Maryland State Arts Council for 2011 at the same level as 2010 ($13.3 million). MCA (Maryland Citizens for the Arts) has written the email for you, and you can choose to send it as written or to personalize it: it's incredibly easy, and makes a real difference.
It takes about 30 seconds to send an e-mail, voice your support of the arts, and make a big impact!!
This is an election year, and all legislators need to be reminded of the importance of the arts to their constituents.
After you've sent the email, please forward it to your friends, encouraging them to do the same. You can also send them a link to this page.
Apr 02, 2010
Maryland State Arts Council Budget has Been Approved by Both Budgetary Committees
During the month of March, the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee both decided not to cut the Fiscal Year 2011 budget for the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) as proposed by Governor O''Malley. The council will receive the same funds that it ended up receiving this last fiscal year, $13.3 million.
MCA worked tirelessly with volunteers, staff, and our thousands of E-Advocates to help accomplish this goal. Thanks are due to the Senators and Delegates on those committees, and particularly to those on the two subcommittees which consider the MSAC budget (the Senate Health, Education, & Human Resources and the House Education & Economic Development). The full Senate and the House have both passed approved their versions of the budget bills for 2011. Now, the bills will be sent to a conference committee to reconcile differences. Since both bills include the same funds for the MSAC, it will not be part of the conference considerations.
There is a separate arts-related issue that will end up in conference, and that is the allocation for a Special Fund for Preservation of Cultural Arts. This Fund was created last spring, but the funds for 2010 were moved to the General Fund as part of the cuts that were made in the sumemr and fall. For 2011, the Senate has passed a bill allocating $500,000 to the Preservation of Cultural Arts. The House bill as it currently stands allocates $1 million. MCA will keep you posted about the decision of the conference committee and the final number included in the approved budget bills.
This legislative session has been a great success thus far, and it is due to the support of citizens across the state. Please join our e-mail list if you have not already done so and be a part of the thousands of Marylanders who support the arts through active advocacy.
Mar 05, 2010
Contact Your Legislators to Preserve Arts Funding!
The time when legislative committees make their decisions is upon us! MCA is calling on YOU, the grassroots advocates, to contact members of the Maryland state legislature in support of public funding for the Arts in Maryland! Very soon, the Maryland General Assembly will be making their decisions on the Governor’s budget proposal, and we need to reach out to our legislators to ensure they make the right choice and support the Arts!
As you may know, the Governor had to find $2 billion in spending cuts in order to balance next year’s budget. However, the Governor didn’t make any cut to the Maryland State Arts Council budget for next year, funding it at the same amount as this fiscal year, $13.3 million. We and the entire arts community are enormously grateful to the Governor for not cutting the Arts Council’s budget in a year when so many reductions were made. In addition, the Governor has not reduced the $1 million allocation for the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts in Maryland.
Our job as a community is to make sure the General Assembly approves what the Governor proposed, and does not make any cuts. MCA representatives have been busy throughout the legislative Session meeting with legislators and testifying at hearings. Now it is your turn, and that of arts supporters across the state, to make your voice heard in Annapolis by sending emails or letters!
When elected officials receive thousands of letters supporting a cause, the impact it makes is enormous! YOU can make a difference for the Arts! Join your voice with that of other arts supporters across the State as we make ourselves heard in Annapolis!
Please take just one minute to send an email or letter to your State Senator and Delegates, and also to the members of the Budget Committees which make recommendations for the Maryland State Arts Council’s budget. You only need to submit one email, and it will be delivered to all of these legislators. In other words, every single email written is leveraged for a huge impact, much the same way as every single dollar spent on the Arts is leveraged!!
Write to your legislator today!Jan 27, 2010
MCA Announces Maryland Arts Day Keynote Speaker and Sue Hess Arts Advocate Award Recipient
The keynote speaker at Maryland Arts Day 2010: Many Voices, One Song will be Liz Lerman.
Liz Lerman is a legendary choregorapher and the Founder/Artistic Director of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
The 2010 Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award recipient is Nancy Haragan..
Nancy Haragan has acted as Executive Director for the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) for the organization’s first decade, after founding the organization in 2001.
Find out more information from the official Press Release:
Maryland Arts Day Press Release
Arts Funding Preserved in Governor's Budget Proposal!
Governor Martin O'Malley's budget proposal was officially released yesterday, and it included good news for the Arts! The allocation to the Maryland State Arts Council was not cut; it has been kept at the FY10 level ($13.3 million). With a projected state budget deficit of nearly $2 billion that had to be closed, keeping level funding is a very positive outcome for the arts community.
Firstly, Thank You! Avoiding a cut is directly attributable to You: to the thousands of letters sent and phone calls made, as well as those present at Maryland Arts Day, at budget hearings, and at meetings with policymakers. Without the strong support of so many Marylanders, the situation could be very different!
Next, we encourage you to thank the Governor for his continued support of the Arts. Send him a letter today to express your gratitude that Arts funding has been preserved!
Maryland Arts Day - Registration Available Now
Join us in the fight for the Arts! The most important arts advocacy event of the year in Maryland is MCA/MCA Foundation’s Maryland Arts Day, taking place on Tuesday, February 9th. Visit the Maryland Arts Day page of the site for detailed information, which will be continually updated as the event date approaches.
Attendees at Maryland Arts Day have a chance to personally meet their local legislators, hear renowned speakers, and meet and network with other arts supporters. However, the most important part of Maryland Arts Day is the impact that it has on arts funding. You can make a difference. Travel with us to Annapolis to show state policy makers how important the Arts are to Marylanders.
You can now register for the event online or download this form to register by mail or fax. Register by January 29th to receive a 20% Early Bird discount.
This year’s Arts Day is of particular importance. The Arts must have a strong and united presence during the Legislative Session in order to succeed at preserving arts funding in this challenging economy. Maryland’s arts organizations cannot afford to lose funding. If arts funding is cut: jobs will be lost, programs targeting children and underserved populations will be cut, related economic activity will disappear, and it would take many, many years for the industry to recover, even if funding was increased in upcoming state budgets.
Visit the Maryland Arts Day page for more information, and check back as information is being added daily!
Jan 13, 2010
Brand New Website & Start of 2010 Legislative Session
Today is January 13, 2010. At noon, the Maryland General Assembly will convene and begin the 2010 Legislative Session. Next week, the budget bill will be introduced in both houses.
This is the time of year when our advocacy efforts are kicked into high gear. MCA needs your help to preserve public funding for more than 250 arts organizations and county arts councils that receive grants from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).
MCA has created this brand new website that was launched earlier in the week. On this site, you can find information to help you navigate the Legislative Session. Our Calendar lists important arts advocacy dates, the Advocacy 101 Guide maps out how to cultivate relationships with your elected officials, and once the budget bill is introduced, we will update the Talking Points site to include information specific to our 2010 strategy. Please keep checking the site for these and other updates!