During this time of intense international crises, it is critical to protect basic human needs: housing, health, and food. At the same time, we know that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is essential to the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Those of us working in the sector need to help protect jobs as well as ensure that the arts and humanities are available to every individual.
With thanks to Nicholas Cohen and Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA), what follows is an update on local and national arts advocacy. We are deeply grateful to MCA and our colleagues at Americans for the Arts for their incredible work.
MCA was part of a national advocacy coalition that included the leadership of Senator Ben Cardin, and representation from various types of nonprofits that worked to ensure that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)loans were available to them through the Small Business Administration (SBA). This was critical because the SBA rarely funds nonprofits, and in the first version of the PPP nonprofits were not included. This was a huge win for the arts and culture sector which to date, has accessed almost $8 billion in PPP support (significantly more than the $2 billion in support that the UK is providing for the arts). If you want to check this out in more detail, here’s a link to that data set (see page 8 for Arts and culture numbers). There was also a successful effort to make sure that freelance workers could receive unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Congress is currently negotiating a new coronavirus relief bill. Last week, Americans for the Arts forwarded to Capitol Hill two letters encouraging support for the arts. One letter was signed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the other was signed by the Artists Committee including 260 artist advocates. PUA that was provided in the CARES Act ran out last Friday, and with 62% of artists having become unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis, it's crucial that Congress moves fast to extend this and other relief measures that will directly support the arts and culture sector while the pandemic continues. (You, too, can urge Congress to act—please take two minutes to contact your representatives via AFTA’s Arts Action Fund Action Center.)
MCA continues to inform and advise Governor Larry Hogan and to fight both for relief funding and to preserve MSAC’s annual appropriation. The great news, for now, is that MSAC received funding this year AND was given $3 million in emergency funds. This is a remarkable vote of confidence and a net increase of $1.5 million in funding at an incredibly challenging time for the state. You can be proud that Maryland ranks near the top of all states in per capita funding for the arts.
As we move through the current crises and toward recovery, this work will continue with urgency. For all of you arts advocates and members of Citizen Artist Baltimore sign up to be an arts advocate through MCA, and start gearing up now for a big push this fall.
Sending my best,
P.S. If you appreciate this newsletter and the mission of GBCA, I hope you will consider making a financial contribution so that we may continue to work on behalf of the cultural sector and people throughout the region. You can make a secure gift online through GBCA’s website. Thank you in advance.