Americans for the Arts and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) today presented the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership to the four founding chairs of the Pennsylvania Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus—Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16, representing part of Lehigh County), Sen. Jay Costa (D-43 representing part of Allegheny County), Rep. Tim Briggs (D-149, representing part of Montgomery County), and Rep. Stan Saylor (R-94, representing part of York County). The annual award was presented at the NCSL Fall Forum in Washington, DC, and honors public officials who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state level.
“The arts play an integral role in the social, educational and economic development of a state,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “We appreciate leaders like Sen. Browne, Sen. Costa, Rep. Briggs, and Rep. Saylor who are actively promoting and advocating for the arts on the state level.”
In 2012, Costa, Browne, Briggs, and Saylor organized the first special interest caucus dealing with arts and culture issues, and soon had the largest in the PA General Assembly. The membership includes 75 legislators from both the House and the Senate including the Lt. Governor, Chairs of the Education, Appropriations, Finance, and Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committees in the Senate and, in the House, Chairs of the Education and Finance Committees.
The Pennsylvania Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus recognizes and advances the state’s creative industries through press conferences to highlight The Arts and Economic Prosperity IV: PA study and arts and culture as an economic development tool; meetings on tax credit programs benefitting arts and culture, and creative aging; and educational outreach programs from museum, creative/cultural districts, and the humanities. The caucus has been supportive of its members in their efforts to draft and pass legislation that advances arts & culture.
The caucus has also demonstrated support and suggested strategies to increase the line items in the General Fund budget for arts & culture. In 2014, the grants to the arts line item received a 5 percent increase—the first since 2007—and, for this fiscal year, the General Assembly level funded for grants to the arts at a time they were cutting other line items and not increasing taxes.
“It is a great honor and privilege to join my colleagues, friends and co-chairs of the Pennsylvania Arts and Culture Caucus, Sen. Pat Browne and Reps. Stan Saylor and Tim Briggs, as the recipients of this award from Americans for the Arts. The arts help our children and future generations better understand the world. That’s why it’s important that we continue supporting the arts so that more lives can be enriched,” stated Sen. Costa.
Jenny L. Hershour, Managing Director of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, commented, “We arts advocates are lucky to have these four legislators as our champions in the General Assembly. They continue to work tirelessly promoting the positive impacts of the arts & culture sector with members of the PA General Assembly.”
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.
National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths, and territories. It provides research, technical assistance, and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.