Federal News and Relief Efforts on COVID-19
White House to Defer to States on Re-Opening
On April 16, the White House announced it would allow governors to implement a three-phase approach to re-opening workplaces and public gatherings, and only after a sustained reduction in COVID-19 symptoms and cases. The broad guidelines in Opening Up America Again are non-binding and suggest that:
- First phases of re-opening would follow advancements in testing protocols, adoption of workforce protocols for testing, social distancing, and protective equipment, and fourteen days of a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases.
- Phase one suggests "large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols," while schools, day cares, and camps remain closed, and social gatherings would be limited to no more than ten people.
- Phase two would limit social gatherings to no more than 50 people and recommends "moderate physical distancing protocols" for large venues.
- Phase three encourages social distancing practices at social gatherings of any size and suggests large venues would operate under "limited physical distancing protocols."
While the document does not specify physical distancing protocols, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is maintaining Resources for Large Community Events and Mass Gatherings and guidance on Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation, which recommend a distance of six feet apart. Tracking developments within your state and region will continue to be the best source of projections on when theatres may plan to resume performances and community learning events and make preparations to accommodate a safe workplace.
TCG Collaborates on Unified Statement to Congress to Expand COVID-19 Relief
Yesterday a new slate of policy recommendations was delivered to Congress and represents a partnership of more than 40 national arts and cultural organizations, urging the federal government to do more to support the arts sector as funding is exhausted for programs created under the CARES Act.
We're asking Congress to broaden eligibility for employment protection programs and forgivable loans, take immediate action that will ensure self-employed theatre artists can access federal support, and increase relief funding administered by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with state and local arts agencies.
TCG's advocacy campaign provides talking points and a sample letter to Congress that can be easily personalized to focus on areas most critical to your theatre. Please highlight the ways your theatre is serving your community during the COVID-19 crisis. Is your theatre providing online education programming, streaming performances, or is your costume shop sewing facial masks for your community and healthcare workers? Let your elected officials know!
Congress is currently attempting to add funding to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Paycheck Protection Program, and other federal relief resources that have been swiftly depleted and will then turn attention to expanded and new forms of federal assistance. Stay tuned for future Action Alerts from TCG!
Calling on SBA, Treasury and Congress to Improve Loan Programs
We know that the guidelines that are currently in use by applicants and lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lack clear guidance regarding the loan forgiveness process, which has yet to be fully addressed by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration. TCG will be submitting Comments on behalf of the theatre field. TCG is also asking Congress to remove the 500 employee cap on PPP eligibility and to increase funding for the program.
CARES Act NEA Funding
And a final reminder: eligible organizations planning to apply for an NEA CARES Act grant should note the upcoming April 22 deadline. Be sure to review the applications guidelines as well as Frequently Asked Questions, and after reviewing all posted information if you have questions please contact Greg Reiner, Ouida Maedel or Ian-Julian Williams.