Another Band-Aid Offered to the Debt Ceiling, Arts Charities Beginning to Suffer

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Today, the GOP proposed a temporary debt ceiling increase. Their proposal, which extends the debt ceiling for 6 weeks to begin negotiations about the federal budget, comes with some serious restrictions – namely, the proposal would ban the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default. So that’s kind of extreme. Democrats, and the president, have not indicated yet whether they will agree to this plea deal or not.

Meanwhile, it looks like arts charities are hitting their own budget crises. One charity in San Francisco holds a yearly sand castle building event to raise money for their programs. Last year, Leap received $250,000 in donations for the event, which made up about half of their yearly budget. But with national park closures, they are unable to use their regular spot, Ocean Beach, because they can’t get permits.

Per the article in SFGate:

“We are in purgatory right now,” said Julie MacDonald, executive director of Leap, the San Francisco nonprofit that uses the contest as a fundraiser to support its art education programs in Bay Area schools. “We have every intention of holding the event, but we’re powerless to reschedule until the government is fully operational.”

“With no appropriated funds for the year, we’re not allowed to incur costs on behalf of the government,” said Alexandra Picavet of the federal agency based at Fort Mason. “This is a terrific event on so many counts, but we don’t have the authority to allow permitted events that require (park ranger) staffing.”

“Each program we create is customized to serve the needs of each school,” MacDonald said. “Schools don’t have the resources to hire their own artists and plan the programs.”

“These sessions always add so much” to the education of young children, many of them families of immigrants, said Chin’s principal, Allen Lee. “They get to utilize their creativity, learn skills, but also learn to work with each other.”

For the moment, Leap is working under the assumption that they will be able to move the date of the fundraiser as soon as the shutdown ends. However, if it lasts much longer, good enough weather could pass and then a very interesting school arts program will suffer tremendously.

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