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Be An #ArtsHero Launches Video Challenge To Lobby Arts Funding

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"Be An #ArtsHero," an intersectional grassroots campaign to get the U.S. Senate to pass emergency Arts relief, has launched a 1-minute video challenge in an effort to highlight the 5.1 million Americans employed in the U.S. Arts & Culture sector, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The "Be An #ArtsHero" video challenge mobilizes all Arts workers, institutions, and anyone who relies on the Arts & Culture sector economically or personally, to use their individual and organizational platforms to record a video of how COVID-19 has impacted them, invite their Senators to "Be An #ArtsHero," and tag a friend or celebrity to do the same. In one video, actor Amy Kim Waschke says, "I want to work. My job is implicitly tied into my identity and my self worth and my activism. Because theatre is not just for entertainment, it's also the best way I know to change hearts and minds." The challenge comes in advance of the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) on August 1st, which leaves 30 million Americans at risk of eviction, bankruptcy, and illness due to lack of healthcare coverage.

THE TOLL

  • 94% of Arts workers report income loss in 2020, and 62% of Arts workers have become fully unemployed. The average financial loss due to Covid per Arts worker is $23,500-to date.

  • 47% of Arts organizations have no target date for re-opening.

  • 29% of Arts organizations laid off or furloughed staff in 2020, and 10% of Arts institutions are "not confident" that they will survive the pandemic (Americans For The Arts)

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown have had a disproportionate negative impact on marginalized communities. Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by September 30th, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a Colorado-based community group. African American and Hispanic renters are expected to be hardest hit. "BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled communities are often overlooked when it comes to robust Arts funding and general economic support. They need fair, direct relief to ensure their survival," said "Be An #ArtsHero" Citizen Organizer Brooke Ishibashi. Dedicated relief specifically allocated to uplift and amplify underrepresented Artists and organizations is essential to weather this storm and set us on an equitable Artistic path moving forward.

The call for funding is based on economic data that proves there can be no full American economic recovery without an Arts & Culture recovery. The Arts & Culture sector is 4.5% of GDP and responsible for up to $877 billion in value added to the U.S. economy, according to data collected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). Arts & Culture production is second only to Retail in value added to U.S. GDP (contributing more than Agriculture, Transportation, Construction, Tourism, etc.). "Ten airlines alone received $50 billion in relief from the CARES Act. The Arts & Culture sector is not a luxury, it is a cornerstone of the American economy and necessitates proportionate relief immediately," said "Be An #ArtsHero" Citizen Organizer Jenny Grace Makholm. The average annual growth rate for Arts & Culture outperforms that of the total U.S. economy, meaning investing in Arts & Culture is an essential tactic for propelling the economy out of a recession.

For every $1 in NEA funding, it leverages $9 in private and public spending. "Arts & Culture isn't a luxury, it's literally built into the fabric of every hour of our day from what we wear, to how our phone apps work, to the books we read, to what we watch on TV. It's unimaginable to think of large portions of this incredibly important economic engine of American prosperity grinding to a halt," added "Be An #ArtsHero" Citizen Organizer Carson Elrod.

THE ASKS

  • 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, with eligibility extended to 36 months.

  • Relief should be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting- public institutions best equipped with the infrastructure to disburse funds quickly and directly to Artists, as well as Arts & Culture unions and institutions.

  • 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 BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, and the economically disadvantaged.

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

  • 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).

  • Follow the lead of the U.K. and Germany and commit billions of dollars in direct relief to Artists, their institutions, their unions, and all others who comprise the Arts & Culture economic ecosystem.

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

  • Visit BeAnArtsHero.com to download the Action Packet for step-by-step instructions on how individuals and organizations can take the necessary steps to convince all 100 U.S. Senators to pass massive Arts relief by August 1st.

  • Do the 1-minute video challenge. Sample script available HERE.

    • Record a 1-minute video

    • Share how the crisis has impacted you and why we need all 100 U.S. Senators to "Be An #ArtsHero"

    • Tag your Senators and @BeAnArtsHero

    • Nominate a friend or celebrity to do the challenge

    • Post to social media with #ArtsHero and email video to: ArtsHeroVideo@gmail.com

  • Contact your Senators: call, write, tweet, tag and ask them, "Will you Be An #ArtsHero"? - the Action Packet has template letters.

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

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


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