Mayors London Breed and Eric Garcetti. Twitter.

July 5, 2020; Operawire

In the face of continued surges and mutations in the pandemic here in the US, on July 1st, the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution asking Congress to provide ongoing funding to arts organizations feeling the impact of COVID-19.

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spearheaded the effort, which backs a set of federal policy recommendations made by 60 national arts organizations and is a follow up to another letter sent to Congress by 23 mayors in May. Here are some of the specifics, as described by Operawire:

  • “Extending the duration of unemployment insurance for artists, arts professionals, and self-employed workers whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through the calendar year 2022, understanding that many will continue to be out of work as the economy struggles to regain its foothold for the next three years.”
  • “Extending SBA [Small Business Administration] and Paycheck Protection Program assistance for artists and arts professionals and providing additional forgivable SBA loans to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, small LLCs; eliminating the 500-employee cap for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; and providing further flexibility regarding the percentage of loan forgiveness for payroll versus rent.”
  • “Enabling equitable participation in artistic, educational, and cultural online activity through ensuring the most vulnerable populations have access to free or low-cost high-speed broadband program offerings.”
  • “Supporting policies that will ensure rapid processing of artist visas and consular appointments that are essential to supporting international cultural activity.”
  • “Ensuring that dedicated funding is provided to the arts and culture industry to help build out its health and safety infrastructure and that they are included in the legislative discussions related to business disruption insurance and liability.”

According to Americans for the Arts, financial losses to the arts and cultural sector have totaled $6.7 billion between when the pandemic began and June 15. Across the United States, the arts employ approximately 5 million workers. Americans for the Arts estimates that the pandemic has left nearly two out of three artists nationwide without a job.—Ruth McCambridge