Reps. Pressley Maloney, Nadler Call for Support for Arts and Cultural Sector in Next Coronavirus Response Package

April 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY),  Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 16 of their colleagues called on House leadership to provide additional assistance to the country’s museums, libraries, and cultural institutions in the next coronavirus recovery package. The nation’s arts and cultural sector accounts for approximately 4.5% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

In their letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Members write that, “while [social distancing] orders are absolutely necessary to protect public health and stop the spread of COVID-19, they are having a devastating impact on the nonprofit arts and cultural community. Nonprofit cultural institutions derive the majority of their revenue from patrons, and consequently face serious economic difficulty as they remain closed indefinitely. Without patronage, the earned revenue stream of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations – which includes fundraising, charitable donations, admissions ticket sales, and venue rentals – has completely disappeared. […] By providing additional emergency funding for the arts and cultural sector, we can enable our nation’s museums, libraries, theaters, performance halls, arts programs, and cultural institutions to outlast this pandemic and continue their invaluable roles in preserving American art, history, and culture.”

Joining Reps. Pressley, Maloney, and Nadler on the letter are Representatives Jim Cooper (D-TN), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

We write to sincerely thank you for your support of museums, libraries, and cultural institutions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Recovery (CARES) Act. As negotiations proceed on a fourth recovery package to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we ask that you continue to support the arts and cultural community. Providing additional financial assistance to this industry will give museums, libraries, theaters, concert halls, and other cultural institutions across the nation the stability they need to persevere through this unprecedented period and reopen once this crisis passes.

The arts and humanities are an integral part of American life. The United States is home to some of the most prestigious, innovative, and unique cultural institutions in the world. These institutions represent and reflect the broad range of cultural experiences in our country, from the Broadway theaters New York City, to the National Video Game Museum in Frisco, Texas, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States that contribute 372,100 jobs and generate $15 billion in annual income. There are an additional 1,500 professional theaters across the country. The arts and cultural sector altogether comprises approximately 4.5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). 

As you know, on March 16th President Trump began calling on Americans to curtail all public gatherings and non-essential activities, expanding on “social distancing” guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are under stay-at-home orders in which residents are encouraged to leave their homes only for essential services, such as purchasing food or medicine. Museums and cultural institutions nationwide have likewise closed their doors indefinitely.

While these orders are absolutely necessary to protect public health and stop the spread of COVID-19, they are having a devastating impact on the nonprofit arts and cultural community. Nonprofit cultural institutions derive the majority of their revenue from patrons, and consequently face serious economic difficulty as they remain closed indefinitely. Without patronage, the earned revenue stream of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations – which includes fundraising, charitable donations, admissions ticket sales, and venue rentals – has completely disappeared. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that the American museum community alone is losing $33 million per day.

While the $200 million in emergency funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is extremely helpful in slowing the financial collapse of the industry, arts and cultural organizations have nevertheless had to lay off hundreds of employees. This is deeply troubling for the American economy at large and additional resources are desperately needed.

We also ask that all nonprofit museums, libraries, and arts and cultural organizations be eligible to receive federal emergency assistance, regardless of whether they have received federal funding from the NEA, NEH, or IMLS in recent years. This will ensure that all members of the arts and cultural community can access the federal assistance they need.

By providing additional emergency funding for the arts and cultural sector, we can enable our nation’s museums, libraries, theaters, performance halls, arts programs, and cultural institutions to outlast this pandemic and continue their invaluable roles in preserving American art, history, and culture.

We thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your work on behalf of the nation during this crisis.

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