The Latest Item For Your Government Affairs Committee

Unless your operating environment is under a rock, you’re probably well aware of plans to defund and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). But were you aware of an executive order signed on 3/13/17 that attempts to provide the Trump administration with a back door to gut those agencies in the event that Congress pushes back?

Adaptistration People 100The executive order is the equivalent of a parent telling a child cut the switch they want to be whipped with in that it requires executive agencies within the executive branch to submit plans for their reorganization.

Proposed as a waste counter-measure, it’s more likely to be used to defund agencies to the point where they can no longer implement their mission on even the most basic levels.

Each of the 440 agencies has until mid-August to submit their respective reorganization plan and that’s one area where your government affairs and advocacy efforts should concentrate.

The other point of contact is during the part of this process when the administration formally invites the public to “suggest improvements in the organization and functioning of the executive branch.”

According to the executive order, one of additional goals in reorganizing is to see if any agency’s activity is better left “to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are numerous points of contact where the administration can attempt to kill arts funding and the field as a whole right down to each individual organization needs to be ready to address this process and cut it off at the knees wherever possible.

More Than Just Advocacy And Funding

It’s worth pointing out that among the 440 agencies are the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

FMCS has been instrumental in helping a wide range of performing arts organizations with unionized labor avoid and/or emerge from remarkably crippling labor disputes.

Over the past several years, former FMCS Director Allison Beck has been a key figure in those efforts. She’s defused disputes in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Atlanta, the Met, and more. Under her leadership, FMCS has developed special training programs for their personnel that leverage those experiences so the agency can be even more beneficial to the arts and culture sector.

Unfortunately, Ms. Beck was removed from her position on January 20, 2017.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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