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Support Federal Relief for the Arts

Why this is important?
The pandemic has been devastating for both individuals and organizations in the arts and culture sector. New aid programs are poised to give help to venues, small businesses, and other individuals affects. But in order to ensure enough relief is made available, it’s important for advocates to let their elected reps know exactly what is most needed.

 What you need to know:
Americans for the Arts has created a statement outlining opportunities for the arts to be supported in the latest COVID-19 relief package currently under consideration this week in Congress.

See the recommendations below.
We are asking that you contact your legislators to ask for their support. See the full statement.
Recommendations to Support the Arts

The next Relief package should include these proposals: Expand and recapitalize Small Business Administration programs, including: Extend Paycheck Protection Program resources, remove restrictions and burdens for self-employed applicants, eliminate the 500-employee cap, and provide dedicated funding for nonprofit organizations while removing restrictions based on gross receipts.

Expand emergency grants to small businesses in the creative arts through continued funding of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and other expanded grant-making capabilities that can best target businesses with less than 10 employees (self-employed, sole proprietors, partnerships, freelancers, and LLCs) and those based in low-income communities that have documented fixed business expenses such as rent/mortgage interest, utilities, business insurance, and debt service and are not adequately served by current programs.

Increase Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program funding to meet the demand for COVID-19 relief for performing arts and cultural venues, promoters, and artist representatives who are facing devastating losses during the prolonged duration of the coronavirus crisis.

As proposed in the American Rescue Plan (ARP), provide new small business grants and small business lending programs. As the ARP notes, “Black- and Brown-owned small businesses, and those in hard-hit industries like restaurants, hotels, and the arts, have suffered disproportionately.” [emphasis added].

Expand and extend Unemployment Insurance programs to meet the needs of the creative workforce for the duration of the pandemic. At a minimum, the PUA, PEUC, FPUC, and MEUC programs should be extended to September 30 to provide a safety net for self-employed artists, gig workers, and others in the creative arts. A robust expansion of weekly benefits, including restoring lost benefits for the FPUC and MEUC programs, would also help lessen the economic impact of the more than 60% of creative workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

Increase charitable giving by expanding the universal charitable deduction tax incentive through significantly increasing the cap and extending the provision at least through 2022, allowing all taxpayers to be incentivized to give more, regardless whether they itemize their returns. Maintain the CARES Act removal of the Adjusted Gross Income limitation on the deductibility of charitable gifts for 2022 and beyond.

As proposed in the American Rescue Plan, provide emergency funds for state, local, and territorial governments to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services. The Arts Sector and COVID-19 Relief (February 2021)

Provide relief for schools to have the resources they need to reopen safely as proposed in the American Rescue Plan. The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted the learning of Black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners. We call for relief funds to help ensure equitable access to arts education as part of a well-rounded education for all learners amidst the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Help nonprofit arts organizations retain employees, meet growing community needs, and support job creation, through dedicated support as proposed in the WORK Now Act, which includes arts and culture organizations as eligible entities, alongside the broader nonprofit sector.

Provide single- and multi-employer pension relief to protect retirement security for the arts workforce. The federal government should support ongoing creative sector activity: Approve substantial funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Institute of Museum and Library Services as they administer dedicated COVID-19 relief to address the unique needs of cultural organizations, artists, and arts workers. Make a new round of COVID-19 relief grants available to all eligible organizations as defined in the NEA’s authorization statute (20 U.S.C. §954), and provide support that is distributed to state and regional agencies per their funding formula, while empowering recipients to use funds to better meet the needs of the entire arts industry and communities that remain underserved.

Urge U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department to improve the artist visa process, including offering flexibility in requesting rescheduled dates due to event cancellations caused by COVID-19. For guest artists from certain countries, U.S. petitioners also need a clearer process and recognition of the importance of National Interest Exceptions for immediate travel.

Ensure the arts are considered in business interruption insurance and liability policy discussions, as the policy outcomes of both areas will influence reopening plans and the long-term viability of American arts and cultural organizations and small businesses. The arts and the work of artists are integral to reimagining and reopening public gathering places and workspaces. 

Support the arts in near-term policies that guide the ways we respond to the ongoing public health crisis: Preserve and expand healthcare and behavioral health coverage as proposed in the American Rescue Plan. Subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. Expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees – including those who never had coverage through their jobs. Appropriate funding to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to mental health and substance use disorder services.

Provide eligibility for arts facilities in relief provisions to renovate and adapt to COVID-19 public health protocols and ensure vaccine availability, testing, money for PPE, and facilities improvements to enable them to create conditions for safe reopening and renew audience engagement. Provide clear and timely public health guidelines for safely reopening performance venues, arts festivals, arts and crafts schools and other arts events to allow for planning and decision making.

Include the arts sector in consideration of public health and workplace safety policies to protect the health of arts workers, support the needs of arts venues, and ensure public confidence in gathering again.

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