Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Be An #ArtsHero Open Letter to the U.S. Senate Gains 16,000 Signatures

Celebrity co-signatories include Rosario Dawson, Oscar Isaac, Billy Porter, Michael Shannon, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Marshall, Laura Linney, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone and more.

Be An #ArtsHero Open Letter to the U.S. Senate Gains 16,000 Signatures

Be An #ArtsHero, a grassroots sector-wide lobbying movement for Arts & Culture workers has received over 16,000 signatures on Co-Organizer Matthew-Lee Erlbach's Open Letter to the Senators of the 116th U.S. Congress. The letter, which has been shared more than 30,000 times, represents a unified, sector-wide call for economic relief for individual Arts workers and Arts organizations. It has gained signatures from the leaders of every major Arts organization, Pulitzer Prize®, Oscar®, Tony Award®, Emmy Award®, and Grammy Award® winners - and most importantly, thousands of rank-and-file Arts Workers from around the country: electricians, carpenters, musicians, docents, dancers, playwrights, performers, administrators, custodians, ushers, milliners, puppeteers, publicists, and everyone in-between.

The wave of support behind the letter has opened the doors for Be An #ArtsHero co-organizers Brooke Ishibashi, Carson Elrod, Jenny Grace Makholm, and Matthew-Lee Erlbach, to speak with about half of the Senate in the United States. The meetings advocate for economic equitability and educate on the importance of a comprehensive Arts relief package for the Arts & Culture sector nationwide, proportionate to the impact the Arts Economy has on the U.S. economy as a whole.

The letter appeals to the U.S. Senate to pass $43.85 Billion in emergency relief for 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. With a growth rate of 4.16%, the Arts & Culture sector outperforms the growth of the entire nation's economy by almost double. Because the Arts & Culture sector has a disproportionately high return on investment, Be An #ArtsHero advocates that this relief for the Arts economy will stabilize and stimulate the entire U.S. economy: there can be no full American economy recovery without a robust Arts & Culture recovery, as our fates are intrinsically tied together.

The response has shown there is a deep need for a consistent and amplified voice speaking on behalf of Arts Workers in the public square. Among the names of thousands of rank-and-file Arts Workers are celebrity artists Rosario Dawson, Oscar Isaac, Billy Porter, Michael Shannon, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Marshall, Laura Linney, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Phillipa Soo, Glenn Close, Rainn Wilson, Rachel Bloom, Ted Danson, Rachel Brosnahan, Amanda Seyfried, Michael Urie, and Julianna Margulies. In addition to the letter, public figures including Hillary Clinton, Cher, Idina Menzel, Daniel Dae Kim, Matt Bomer, and Alfre Woodard have amplified the Be An #ArtsHero message on social media.

Notable institutions who have signed in support include Metropolitan Opera, Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Geffen Playhouse, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, High Desert Museum, Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, Anchorage Youth Symphony, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Roundabout Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Open Source Gallery, Nashville Ballet, Women's Project Theatre, Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, Boise Contemporary Theatre, Portland Art Museum, African American Shakespeare Company, Dallas Theatre Center, Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors, Santa Fe Playhouse, Brooklyn Arts Council, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jose Limon Dance Foundation, CUNY Dance Initiative, Brooklyn Historical Society, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Latino Theater Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, House Theatre of Chicago, Asolo Repertory Theatre, College Light Opera Company, Greensboro Ballet, Music Theatre Wichita, and more.

Originally published on American Theatre Magazine's website on July 25, 2020, prior to the expiration of the first COVID stimulus package, the letter is as vital today as it was three months ago.

Since publication date, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) has expired, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been depleted, while a new relief package has yet to reach the floor of the U.S. Senate. Be An #ArtsHero has joined the lobbying effort for relief that will help support and sustain the 2.7 million unemployed Arts workers, as well as the thousands of distressed Arts and Culture businesses that typically employ them.

"The livelihoods of 5.1 million American Arts Workers in red states and blue depend on a thriving Arts & Culture sector. We will continue to mobilize and amplify the voices of our industry to urge our newly elected administration to make the Arts & Culture economy a legislative priority for immediate relief and a cornerstone for a full American economic recovery," said Co-Organizer Matthew-Lee Erlbach.

"We are big business because we are local business. We are turning up the pressure on our newly elected administration to protect all 5.1 million Arts workers and 675,000 local businesses in every state, every county, and every city in order to ensure the survival of our human and physical infrastructure, " adds Co-Organizer Brooke Ishibashi.

Be An #ArtsHero urges Arts Workers nationwide to add their name to the letter and show their support for the movement. Due to COVID-19, 63% of Arts workers report that they are fully unemployed, 94% have reported an income loss, 41% of Arts & Culture Institutions report that they are not confident they will survive the pandemic (Americans for the Arts). Additionally, 90% of music venues report that they will not reopen without relief, 70% of U.S. cinemas could go bankrupt by year's end, and 60% of NYC's independent theatres may close for good. Permanent closures on this scale will cause a systemic economic collapse in a vibrant ecosystem of mutually-beneficial businesses that rely on Arts & Culture institutions to survive and thrive.

For more information, please visit:

Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You