Congress is working on its fourth package of federal relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is still much more work to be done to support theatres, theatre artists, and the communities they serve. Keep your elected officials informed about concerns and losses that are not being addressed and tell them about theatres’ unique capacity to support the U.S. economy, uplift the human spirit, and provide lifelong learning.
Consider the following points when contacting your members of Congress and choose key areas of focus for your theatre:
Updated Talking Points:
Theatres will be an essential partner in jump-starting local, state, and national recovery efforts during and after COVID-19 and are innovating to provide online arts experiences and distance learning opportunities. The unexpected loss of event-dependent revenue, income for theatre artists, and declines in charitable contributions is mounting and will only worsen over time. The next relief package can provide essential investments in sustaining the arts.
SUPPORT THE ARTS WORKFORCE AND ARTS SECTOR CONTINUITY:
- Expand and recapitalize the Paycheck Protection Program resources, eliminate the 500-employee cap and provide dedicated funding available to nonprofit organizations, and remove restrictions for self-employed applicants. Extended duration, expanded eligibility, new opportunities for those that have exhausted initial funds, and clear loan forgiveness guidance are urgently needed.
- Expand the duration of pandemic unemployment benefits and improve guidelines for implementation so that freelance artists with mixed income sources receive full support.
- Provide loan forgiveness for nonprofits through the Main Street Lending Program and the Economic Stabilization Fund and ensure eligibility for nonprofit employers with more than 500 employees that have been left out of current relief provisions.
- Fully fund the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and eliminate the $1,000 per employee cap imposed by SBA so businesses with one or very few employees can access funds.
- Provide additional forgivable emergency assistance loans, tax credits, and other forms of support to nonprofit organizations of all sizes and to self-employed workers, sole proprietors, and small LLCs to offset fixed overhead costs such as rent, utilities, insurance, and debt service.
- Increase charitable giving by removing the $300 cap on the above-the-line tax incentive for non-itemizers and allowing all taxpayers to claim the deduction on both 2019 and 2020 tax returns. Renew the CARES Act removal of the Adjusted Gross Income limitation on deductibility of charitable gifts for 2021 and beyond.
- Expand access to health coverage and care by including a one-time special enrollment period in relief legislation and removing barriers to health coverage for arts workers that have atypical employment structures.
SUPPORT ONGOING CREATIVE SECTOR ACTIVITY:
- Support a complete education for all students through federal education funding and distance learning resources that will ensure equitable access to arts education for all learners amidst the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
- Adopt an emergency broadband benefit to ensure that all people, no matter their income or location, have access to high speed broadband. Ensuring connectivity enables more equitable participation in artistic, educational, and cultural activity taking place online.
- Approve substantial funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, as they administer dedicated COVID-19 relief that uniquely addresses the operational needs of cultural organizations. Make COVID relief grants available to all eligible organizations. Expand waivers for public/private matching requirements to apply to all active FY19 and FY20 NEA grant awards, provide flexibility for sub-granting, and allow current grantees to re-allocate funding for general operating support that helps to address COVID-19 economic losses.
- Treat nonprofits that self-fund unemployment insurance fairly by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits to 100% of costs.
- Enact policies that will ensure rapid processing of the artist visas that are essential to supporting international cultural activity as performances are rescheduled.
SUPPORT THE ARTS IN SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE POLICIES:
- Support the arts and work of artists as essential infrastructure investments that build a strong cultural infrastructure, create art that enriches our lives, and use an arts-based approaches to public works and community development initiatives.
- 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.
- Provide eligibility for arts facilities in infrastructure investments needed to renovate, refurbish, and adapt to post-COVID-19 public health protocols.
- Ensure the arts are considered in business interruption insurance and liability policy discussions, as the policy outcomes of both areas will influence the near-term reopening plans and long-term viability of American arts and cultural organizations.
According to an Americans for the Arts study on the economic losses to the arts as a result of COVID-19, nonprofit arts organizations have, to date, registered an estimated $5.5 billion in financial losses. In addition, nonprofit arts organizations have lost 197 million event admissions, which has resulted in a loss of $6.2 billion in event-related spending by audiences. Arts organizations, artists, and the broader arts workforce are vital contributors to the nonprofit sector, are essential to the economy, vitality, and wellbeing of the communities they serve, and they must be supported by all forms of relief.
There is growing support for these requests, and your voice will join others in the arts and nonprofit sectors!
TCG joined a unified national Arts and COVID-19 Statement to Congress
, which was created through a partnership with more than 40 national arts organizations, and supports the following:
Theatres are encouraged to consult this growing collection of COVID-19 resources.