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'Be An #ArtsHero' Calls for $43.85 Billion in Relief; Letter to Senators of the 116th Congress Reaches Nearly 10,000 Signatures

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'Be An #ArtsHero' is the intersectional, grassroots movement advocating for $43.85 Billion in relief to the Arts & Culture sector.

'Be An #ArtsHero' Calls for $43.85 Billion in Relief; Letter to Senators of the 116th Congress Reaches Nearly 10,000 Signatures

"Be An #ArtsHero," an intersectional grassroots campaign to get the U.S. Senate to pass emergency Arts relief, has built a sector-wide coalition calling for Congress to allocate proportionate relief to the Arts & Culture sector, which adds $877 billion in value to the economy annually, provides 4.5% of GDP, and employs 5.1 million Americans. The campaign asks the U.S. Senate to pass $43.85 billion in direct relief to Artists and Arts Institutions, with fair allocation to marginalized communities who are disproportionately impacted: those who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, etc. This $43.85 billion is 5% of the sector's value added to the economy, which is proportionate to the $50 billion allocated to the top ten airlines who successfully lobbied for assistance. There is $120 Billion from the CARES Act that is approved, but still unallocated, from which Senators could appropriate to $43.85 Billion the arts and culture sector tomorrow with no new money spent. As pandemic shutdowns approach six months, the industry is on the brink of systemic collapse: approximately 3.1 Million Arts Workers are fully unemployed-- that's more than 10% of the 30 million total unemployed Americans relying on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which expired on July 25th. 41% of Arts & Culture Institutions report that they are not confident they will survive the pandemic, and 90% of music venues report that they will not reopen without relief. Immediate and proportionate economic relief is essential to weather the storm.

With American economy on the brink of collapse, "Be An #ArtsHero" advocates that an investment in the Arts economy will have far-reaching buoying effects on the whole economy, because the Arts & Culture sector has a disproportionately high return on investment. Arts & Culture alone outperforms the growth of the entire nation's economy by almost double. If the Senate is committed to a swift American economic recovery, all metrics suggest relief and investment in the arts as the best course of action to achieve that goal. Annually, 40% of NEA grants serve high-poverty communities, 36% serve disabled and veteran communities, and 33% serve low-income audiences. For every $1 in NEA funding, it leverages $9 in private and public spending. A $43.85 Billion investment could leverage nearly $400 Billion in economic development, an essential tactic for propelling the economy out of a recession.

A Unified Call for Action

The industry has coalesced around the "Be An #ArtsHero" OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATORS OF THE 116TH U.S. CONGRESS, by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, which has gained nearly 10,000 signatures from the most preeminent Arts institutions across America, along with: Rosario Dawson, Jane Fonda, Rob Marshall, Laura Linney, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Phillipa Soo, Glenn Close, Rainn Wilson, Mark Hamill, Rachel Bloom, Ted Danson, Rachel Brosnahan, Amanda Seyfried, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Urie, Julianna Margulies, and more. On Twitter, Cher, Bette Midler, and Tyler Oakley have tweeted in support of the #ArtsHero campaign. These celebrities join the names of organizations like Carnegie Arts Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, The Nashville Ballet, Brooklyn Historical Society, and thousands of working-class Arts workers represented by dozens of unions and affiliations who make up the backbone of the Arts economy. Celebrity ambassadors include Billy Porter, BD Wong, Jane Krakowski, Cristin Milioti, Rachel Bloom with the ensemble cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and more.

The momentum is due to the emotional and human impact the COVID-19 recession is having on the Arts Sector. As Erlbach writes in the Open Letter, "We are over 675,000 small businesses and organizations in every town, city, and state, employing 5.1 million hard-working Americans who are now desperately struggling to stay above water. Our influence reaches across every sector because the Arts Economy is a jobs multiplier, creating millions of sustainable jobs in collateral arts-adjacent economies. Our very humanity-and the Humanities-teeter at the edge of a fiscal and existential cliff. If we fall, so does the identity of America itself, for we are the very expression of this nation. And right now, we are crying out for your action." To read and sign the letter visit


  • Immediate extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) until the crisis is over and Arts & Culture institutions are safe to fully re-open.

  • 100% subsidy for the COBRA program to protect workers' healthcare; eligibility extended to 36 months.

  • $43.85 Billion committed to direct relief to Artists, their Institutions, their Unions, and all others who comprise the Arts & Culture economic ecosystem.

  • Relief should be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Small Business Administration, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting- entities best equipped with the infrastructure to disburse funds quickly and directly.

  • Guarantee that a fair percentage of relief be apportioned in direct grants and relief to individual Artists and small Arts organizations representing the underrepresented, oppressed, and marginalized communities in our country, specifically toward those who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, and economically disadvantaged.

  • Allow all nonprofits fair access to government economic support in the Paycheck Protection Program, including labor unions.

  • A portion of funding should be distributed through the Small Business Administration to provide forgivable loans to small businesses with a track record of being involved in the arts and culture sector that can prove financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 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.

  • Follow the lead of the U.K. and Germany and commit billions of dollars in direct relief to Artists, their Institutions, et al.


The campaign harnesses the creative capacity and institutional infrastructure of the entire Arts & Culture sector, including Arts workers, Arts & Culture institutions, unions, and ultimately every single person who values the role of the Arts in their lives. In essence: everyone.

  • Contact your Senators: call, write, tweet, tag and ask them, "Will you Be An #ArtsHero"?

  • Visit

    • Sign the Open Letter to the Senators of the 116th Congress

    • Download the Action Packet for step-by-step instructions for individuals and organizations

    • Share the resource graphics on your websites, social media profiles, and email newsletters

    • Follow "Be An Arts Hero" on social media and use #ArtsHero

    • Share the Call to Action video

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