Brigadier General Nolen Bivens (ret.), Interim President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Executive Director of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund (Arts Action Fund), released the following statement in response to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021:
“We are very pleased that Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan, which will provide much-needed support to the creative economy workforce and to the many nonprofit arts and culture organizations and institutions that have faced devastating economic losses – to the tune of $15.3 billion to date and 2.7 million creative workers out of work.
“Americans for the Arts, the Arts Action Fund, and a coalition of thousands of artists, creative workers, and arts organizations have worked steadfastly to shed light on the disproportionate economic impact on creative workers in the pandemic. The pandemic and resulting economic crisis have led to rates of unemployment 10 times higher for creative workers, especially among those identifying as BIPOC, than the national rate.
“The American Rescue Plan’s extension of pandemic unemployment assistance, health insurance coverage, food and rent assistance, and direct stimulus checks will provide immediate assistance to our sector’s creative workers. Through the $350 billion set aside for state and local governments, territories, and tribes, the $135 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the $175 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, immediate assistance will be provided to nonprofit and governmental organizations within the cultural sector. And the additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program will provide a new infusion of assistance to self-employed workers and businesses of all types within the creative sector. We are especially grateful to the Senate for amending the bill so that performing arts organizations and talent representatives can now apply for both a new PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue grant for a net award that will provide immediate economic relief for these hardest hit small businesses. Americans for the Arts continues to advocate for more equitable distribution of these resources to help ensure underrepresented and BIPOC communities, as well as LGBTQ+ creative workers and those with disabilities, get the proportionate relief they need.
“Americans for the Arts, the Arts Action Fund, and the Get Creative Workers Working coalition, of which Americans for the Arts is a member, will continue to urge the White House and Congress to incorporate dedicated creative workforce programs and funding in the upcoming Building Back Better recovery package – an essential way to drive economic and social recovery. There is no doubt the arts will be a valuable partner in Building Back Better and we look forward to working closely with the Biden-Harris administration to put creative workers to work alongside all of the others ready to help rebuild and reimagine our communities.”
The Get Creative Workers Working coalition of 160 cultural groups and creative workers created a comprehensive recovery proposal called Put Creative Workers to Work, which integrates the inclusive creative economy as a cornerstone of the national recovery. To date, this proposal has been endorsed by over 2,300 creative businesses and creative workers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. If enacted, it could create or save over 325,000 jobs, generate tens of billions of dollars of economic ripple effects throughout American communities, and create hundreds of thousands of revenue-generating festivals, artworks, and community events.