Americans for the Arts and Over 775 Cultural Organizations and Creative Workers Come Together to Propose Plan for Putting Creative Workers to Work After Pandemic


Americans for the Arts, in partnership with over 775 cultural organizations and creative workers, has proposed a 15-action national recovery strategy that the next Administration can use to put creative workers to work—activating the creative economy and drawing upon the creative energies of the country’s 5.1 million creative workers to energize Americans, reimagine how communities can thrive, and improve the lives of all. Organizations and creative workers who wish to endorse this proposal can do so via the Creative Workforce Proposal Endorsement form.

Rebuilding and reimagining the United States post-pandemic includes many actions that can be achieved through executive action and/or without authorizing substantial additional federal funding. This cross-cutting set of policy proposals was developed in collaboration with, and with input from, over 100 field partners, and will be delivered to both Presidential campaigns as well as to members of Congress to inform their process as they begin to think about recovery and rebuilding strategies for the country.

The 15 actions include:

Engage In, and Drive, Direct Employment of Creative Workers

  1. Use executive action to advance direct employment of creative workers within federal agencies and programs.
  2. Use executive action to direct federal departments to commission artists and community arts organizations.
  3. Put artists to work addressing public and mental health in communities.
  4. Use executive action to complete the launch of an ArtistCorps within AmeriCorps.

Drive Local, State, and Private Sector Activation of Creative Workers

  1. Incentivize private businesses and local and state agencies and tribal governments to integrate creative workers to envision successful business structures in recovery and beyond.
  2. Prioritize and incentivize public and private sector support, access to capital, and equitable funding of arts producing organizations, small creative businesses, community cultural centers, and collectives.
  3. Utilize and provide resources to local-level Workforce Investment Boards to develop and deploy creative entrepreneur support programs.

Adjust Existing Policies to Recognize Creative Workers as Workers

  1. Through executive action and in partnership with Congress, ensure that the creative economy is explicitly included in existing policy, rules, and regulations.
  2. Overhaul outdated employment, insurance, food, and housing policies to make them more inclusive of the more than 55 million independent workers, including the bulk of the 5.1 million creative workers in the country.

Integrate Creative Interventions into Response, Recovery and Resilience Programs

  1. Through executive action and in collaboration with Congress, direct and incentivize the integration of creative workers and creative organizations at the municipal, county, state, and tribal levels during disaster relief and recovery efforts.
  2. Through executive action or policy modification, integrate artists and culture workers into critical, long-term community recovery planning.
  3. Improve treatment of creative workers and businesses within the federal disaster response structure for all declared disasters.

Support Access to Arts, Culture, and Arts Education

  1. Expand opportunities and lower barriers for public access to cultural experiences and venues.
  2. Support and incentivize private, state, local, and tribal philanthropic investment in arts-based education and educators.
  3. Prioritize digital training, access, and connectivity to enhance the connection between artists and all Americans.

The creative economy is an economic driver—an $878 billion industry that supports 5.1 million jobs and represents 4.5% of the nation’s economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is devastating America’s arts industry. Two-thirds of the nation’s artists and creative workers are unemployed ($50.6 billion in lost income), virtually every nonprofit arts organization has cancelled events (a loss of $12.5 billion in revenue), and thousands of arts organizations doubt they will survive the pandemic. Despite that, 3 out of 4 artists have used their creative practice to address community needs, raise morale, and create community cohesion, and over 80% are ready to deploy their creativity to support the recovery, according to Americans for the Arts research.

Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch commented, “The arts are part of the heart and soul of America, and creativity has always been essential to recovery—there can be no recovery without it. To thrive post-pandemic, the United States must leverage its creative power, putting creative workers to work rebuilding, reimagining, unifying, and healing communities in every state and territory, as well as within tribal lands. I strongly urge the next Administration to put creative workers to work alongside all of the others ready to help rebuild and reimagine our communities and places, and the whole country will be made better for it.”

To date, 780 arts and culture organizations and creative workers from 48 states and the District of Columbia have endorsed the creative workforce proposal. Endorsing organizations include nonprofit arts groups and for-profit creative businesses in all genres; local, state, regional and national arts agencies and advocacy groups; foundations; media organizations; and trade associations.

In addition to Americans for the Arts and the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, select endorsing organizations include: Alternate ROOTS, American Alliance of Museums, American Craft Council, American Theatre Wing, Association for Creative Industries, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Association of Teaching Artists, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, CERF+ – the Artists’ Safety Net, Grantmakers in the Arts, the International Storytelling Center, International Folk Alliance, League of American Orchestras, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, National Council for the Traditional Arts, National Guild for Community Arts Education, National YoungArts Foundation, Springboard for the Arts, the Stage Managers Association of the United States, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, Theatre Communications Group, and United States Artists.

Endorsing individuals come from across the country, and include artists, cultural leaders, clergy, teachers, foundation leaders, and concerned citizens—including former National Endowment for the Arts chair Jane Alexander, award-winning actress Annette Bening, and artist and civil rights advocate Christine Sun Kim.

To view the full 15-action proposal as well as the ever-growing list of endorsing organizations and individuals, visit “To Rebuild and Reimagine America, We Must Put Creative Workers to Work” at www.AmericansForTheArts.org/CreativeWork.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.

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