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May 14, 2020; Artforum

Recently, we have been covering the collective efforts of nonprofits to move things, by hook or by crook, in the right direction for their fields and for their own organizations. This story starts with the San Francisco Arts Alliance, an informal coalition of fifteen organizations, which initiated an appeal to Congress to create a comprehensive stimulus package for the arts. That letter’s now been signed by mayors of 23 major cities.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the letter asks for:

  • An unemployment insurance extension, including for those who weren’t full-time employees.
  • New provisions in the Economic Stabilization Fund, which is part of the CARES Act, specifically for nonprofits with 500 to 10,000 employees.
  • An extension of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for artists and arts organizations, and additional forgivable SBA loans.
  • Removal of the 500-employee cap for nonprofit applicants.
  • More flexibility about how much of the loans can be used for rent, instead of payroll.

It also asked for the removal of a $300 cap on deductions for charitable contributions for 2019 and 2020.

“This is about far more than the cancellation of performances and exhibitions,” the letter reads. “This is about individuals—artists and cultural workers alike—whose livelihoods are being threatened if not already irrevocably impacted. This is also about the soul of our communities: It is the arts that make each of our communities unique. And it is the arts that will help our communities survive and thrive economically.”

Mayors who signed the document include:

  • Steve Adler (Austin, TX)
  • LaToya Cantrell (New Orleans, LA)
  • John Cooper (Nashville, TN)
  • Bill de Blasio (New York, NY)
  • Mike Duggan (Detroit, MI)
  • Jenny A. Durkan (Seattle, WA)
  • Kate Gallego (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Michael B. Hancock (Denver, CO)
  • Jim Kenney (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Lori Lightfoot (Chicago, IL)
  • Satya Rhodes-Conway (Madison, WI)
  • Libby Schaaf (Oakland, CA)
  • Sylvester Turner (Houston, TX)
  • Martin J. Walsh (Boston, MA)

Meanwhile, Hyperallergic reports that one of the signatories, Philadelphia’s mayor, Jim Kenney, has proposed to entirely eliminate funds for the city’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. This follows the rescission of around $1.7 million in cultural grants to 80 institutions by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. We expect to be seeing a lot more such stuff as localities and some states struggle to manage within reduced revenue bases.—Ruth McCambridge