Counting Blessings

Counting my blessings is a mental exercise I do during the holidays. I don’t plan it. It just seems to pop into my head along with the strains of “Let It Snow.” This year, perhaps triggered by the loss and restoration of county funds for the arts, I began to count our collective blessings as an arts community. And there are some huge blessings to count, particularly on the national stage.

Congress seems poised to add almost $2 million to both the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) for arts education programs. Most promising of all, is the permanent extention of the IRA Charitable Rollover which allows folks over 70 1/2 to contribute up to a maximum of $100,000 of their IRA directly to a charity of their choice. This is a big deal for the arts and for the not for profit community. It is hoped this addition to the tax code will encourage new donations.

So if the fat lady sings this Christmas, there will be some goodies under the tree for the arts. I am told the fat lady may be the diva Brunnhilda, from Wagner’s four-opera Ring Cycle, that goes on for 14 hours – during which the audience waits (not so patiently) for Brunnhilda’s ten-minute solo that signals the end of the opera (ordeal or pleasure), whichever is your favor. So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

Read more from Americans for the Arts staff detailing the arts education provisions in the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Photo: ArtsWestchester Teaching Artist Jo Mullins works on an art project with a student at Longfellow Middle School

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