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Be An Arts Hero | Write Your Senators

Stage Directions • Industry News • August 8, 2020

Jennifer Grace Makholm

Have you sent an email to your Senators through the Be An Arts Hero Action Network letter yet? What are you waiting for?! It’s so quick and easy, everything is laid out for you. Here is some information to help you create your own unique and personal email to your Senators.

  1. Use the context, data, and demands below to inform a personal and unique letter that you write to your senator using the empty letter writing box. Plug in your information and you will find yourself writing a letter directly to your two Senators.
  2. Use this website from the National Association of State Arts Agencies as a resource that will give you state specific data to include in your personal ask. Here you can find out how many people are employed by the Arts & Culture sector in your state in addition to the total monetary number of value added to your state’s economy as well as percentage of Gross State Product. A specific ask is going to be taken more seriously than a form letter.

CONTEXT: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The Arts & Culture Sector is in crisis
The Arts & Culture sector employs 5.1 million people and provides $877 billion value added to the U.S. economy. It adds more value to the economy than transportation, agriculture, or tourism. The sector is a cornerstone of the larger U.S. economy, making up 4.5% of GDP. Despite their out-sized cultural and economic contribution, The Arts & Culture sector of the U.S. economy is in grave danger.

The National Endowment for the Arts chairman Mary Anne Carter said recently, “Times are drastic. Our Arts organizations are suffering. They don’t know if they’re going to survive, let alone reopen.” COVID19 is spiking nationally, meaning Arts & Culture institutions will remain shuttered for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the common “survival jobs” for Arts workers are in the hospitality and service sectors, which have been almost equally devastated by this crisis. With over 20 million unemployed, the competition for survival jobs is fierce; millions will remain unemployed for the foreseeable future.

It’s not just Artists and Arts organizations who are in trouble: administrators, management, hospitality staff, custodians, and countless others depend on Arts & Culture institutions for income are currently relying on the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program to pay their bills. When FPUC ended on August 1st, millions of Arts workers are now facing instant financial catastrophe, including eviction, which as this Washington Post story reminds us, disproportionately impacts the Black community. (

This cannot be understated. Without an extension of FPUC, up to 28 million Americans could find themselves homeless by October 1. Without immediate relief, institutions themselves will permanently close; causing systemic economic collapse in a vibrant ecosystem of mutually beneficial businesses that all rely on Arts & Culture institutions for their success. Compounding the tragedy is that millions of arts workers are losing (or have lost) their health insurance during a deadly pandemic; a pandemic that also disproportionately impacts People of Color. (

Not only would relief and investment in the Arts & Culture sector stabilize the economy, it would be the best way to assure the overall U.S. economy recovers from our current crisis. From 2014 to 2016, the average annual growth rate in the contribution of Arts & Culture was 4.16%, nearly double the total U.S. economy’s 2.22% growth rate. The average annual growth rate for Arts & Culture outperforms that of the total U.S. economy.

Latest Data Shows Increase to U.S. Economy from Arts and Cultural Sector

For every $1 of NEA funding, it leverages $9 in private and public dollars that fuels a dynamic cultural economy that generates millions of American jobs. The data suggests that the fastest way to stabilize the U.S. economy and assure a fast and robust recovery is relief and investment in the Arts & Culture sector. The Arts enliven us as Americans. The Arts inspire, comfort, challenge, excite, and uplift us. But more than that, the Arts are big business. The Arts are too big to fail. And Arts relief and investment is the surest path back to economic prosperity and a robust recovery.

Statement on Arts, Jobs, and the Economy

Use the automated tool on this page: to urge your Senator to be an #ArtsHero by passing legislative relief that includes the following:

  1. An Immediate extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program until the COVID crisis is over and Arts & Culture institutions are safe to fully re-open.
  2. 100% subsidy for COBRA to protect workers’ healthcare, as millions of Artists and Arts workers face losing their health insurance in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Eligibility should be extended to 36 months.
  3. $43.85 Billion dollars of dedicated relief committed to direct relief to Artists, Institutions, and all others who comprise the Arts & Culture economic ecosystem. This number represents just 5% of our value added to the U.S. economy. Germany appropriated fifty billions dollars to bolster their Arts & Culture sector. The U.K. appropriated $2 billion to do the same. The U.S. must follow suit to ensure the survival of its own institutions, as the Arts bring value to our lives and empower our communities to prosper.
  4. Relief should be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a percentage of relief guaranteed to be apportioned in direct grants. The grants must be distributed across the Arts & Culture sector in a way that not only assures flagship institutions survive but that also assures that marginalized, underrepresented, developing, innovative, and culturally diverse artists and institutions are empowered to survive this moment and thrive on the other side of it.
  5. Allow all nonprofits and arts-related for-profits (like costume shops) fair access to government economic support in the Paycheck Protection Program – including labor unions that provide vital assistance to members around the clock and face the same hardships small businesses do.
  6. Update the Qualified Performing Artist tax deduction, allowing creative professionals to keep more of their hard-earned money by deducting necessary business expenses from their taxes (now due in July).

CONTINUE YOUR ACTIVISM by using the #ArtsHero ACTION PACKET and following the #ArtsHero campaign on social media.


Social Media: Amplify and use the #ArtsHero hashtag to ask the Senate to take action.



Instagram: @BeAnArtsHero

Twitter: @BeAnArtsHero1

Here is a spreadsheet of all the social media profiles of all 100 Senators! Let them know how it important it is.

*Pro-Tip, keep your messages, tags, @’s, and #’s kind, encouraging, and framed in such a way to encourage all 100 U.S. Senators to take necessary and positive action.



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