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 orchestras, musicians, and the communities they serve. Keep your elected officials informed about concerns and losses that are not being addressed and tell them about orchestras’ unique capacity to support the U.S. economy, uplift the human spirit, and provide lifelong learning.
While very many areas of support are under discussion, your message should be concise, focused, and specific to your orchestra. Consider the following points when contacting your members of Congress and choose key areas of focus:
Updated Talking Points:
Orchestras 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 musicians, 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 remove restrictions for self-employed applicants. Extended duration, expanded eligibility for those that have been left out, and new opportunities for those that have exhausted initial funds are urgently needed for arts organizations of all sizes to support the arts workforce and serve communities.
- Provide additional forgivable Main Street Lending Program loans, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, tax credits, and other forms of support to nonprofit organizations of all sizes and to self-employed workers, sole proprietors, and small LLCs. Authorize and require the Federal Reserve to quickly finalize a nonprofit lending facility under MSLP that is tailored to accommodate mid-size nonprofits, including a loan forgiveness option.
- Expand the duration of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and improve guidelines for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance implementation so that musicians and other gig economy workers with mixed income sources receive full support.
- Support nonprofits that self-fund unemployment insurance by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits to 100% of costs.
- Increase charitable giving by expanding the above-the-line, universal charitable deduction tax incentive for non-itemizers to one-third of the standard deduction, as supported in S. 4032/H.R. 7324, and extend this and the CARES Act removal of the Adjusted Gross Income limitation on deductibility of charitable gifts through 2021.
- Enact and expand grant and funding programs, such as the proposed WORK NOW Act to help nonprofits retain employees and advance their nonprofit missions, and approve substantial funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services, as they administer dedicated COVID-19 relief that uniquely addresses the operational needs of cultural 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.
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.
- 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.
- Provide assistance for single- and multi-employer pension funds.
- 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.
There is growing support for these requests, and your voice will join others in the arts and nonprofit sectors!
The League of American Orchestras has led a unified national Arts and COVID-19 Statement to Congress
, which was created through the League’s partnership with more than 60 national arts organizations, and supports the following:
Orchestras are encouraged to consult the League’s growing collection of COVID-19 resources
and specifically review the League’s overview of current opportunities for federal assistance