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SF Art Orgs & Mayor Breed Ask Congress for Aid to the Arts

Updated: May 15, 2020 12:17
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Mayors across the US, guided by 15 or so San Francisco arts organizations and Mayor London Breed’s office, wrote to Congress this week, asking the Fed to step up it’s support for the arts.

As the unemployment rate in our country reaches toward 25%, to match the jobless numbers of the Great Depression, we need FDR level leadership more than ever.  In response to the Great Depression, FDR famously used the power of the Federal government to put Americans back to work with his New Deal, and he did not overlook the arts.  He, and his administration created the WPA Federal Art Project in 1930s, a program (among many other public programs) that put thousands of artists back to work beautifying the nation, creating many of the priceless murals, sculptures and paintings that have since defined what the American aesthetic and style is, around the world.

California Life, by Diego Rivera. Coit Tower, San Francisco 1933–34.  Commissioned by  SF Art Institute.

This week, an alliance of SF art non-profits and institutions helped SF Mayor London Breed to rally 22 other Mayors across America to write to congress, asking for further aid to the arts.  In the letter they explained what is needed:

“The arts sector is an economic engine that directly employs more than 5 million workers. In March 2020, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the arts and culture workforce contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.

The letter continues, “The current losses sustained by the arts and cultural sector throughout the nation have reached a staggering $4.8 billion in just the first two months of this crisis.”

The mayors asked for further unemployment insurance for artsts, more funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and remove the $300 cap on charitable tax deductions for those donating to the arts,  Here are the letter exact requests:

  • Extend the duration of unemployment insurance for artists, arts professionals, and selfemployed workers whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

    ● Adjust the Economic Stabilization Fund or other mechanisms to implement programs to
    support nonprofit employers with between 500 and 10,000 employees, including loanforgiveness and other provisions. Provide clear guidance and maximum flexibility to
    private lenders to prioritize processing the applications of charitable nonprofits, including
    arts organizations

    ● Extend SBA and Paycheck Protection Program assistance for artists and arts
    professionals, provide additional forgivable SBA loans to nonprofit arts and cultural
    organizations, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, small LLCs, and eliminate the
    500-employee cap for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Further, flexibility should be
    provided regarding the percentage of loan forgiveness for payroll versus rent.

    ● Provide additional funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment
    for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    ● Support policies that will ensure rapid processing of the artist visas and consular
    appointments that are essential to supporting international cultural activity. Without this,
    many arts organizations will be unable to produce the seasons they had planned when
    they can return to their venues.

    ● Expand the opportunity for non-itemizers to be incentivized to give more by removing
    the $300 cap on charitable deductions for non-itemizers and allowing all taxpayers to
    claim the deduction on 2019, 2020, and future taxes. The significant unexpected loss of
    revenue and declines in charitable contributions are immediately impacting arts and
    cultural organizations.

The letter was addressed to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy, and singed by these mayors:

London N. Breed
San Francisco, California
Lori Lightfoot
Chicago, Illinois
Bill de Blasio
New York City, New York
Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles, California
Jenny A. Durkan
Seattle, Washington
Martin J. Walsh
Boston, Massachusetts
Michael B. Hancock
Denver, Colorado
Kate Gallego
Phoenix, Arizona
Sylvester Turner
Houston, Texas
Sam Liccardo
San Jose, California
Darrell Steinberg
Sacramento, California
LaToya Cantrell
New Orleans, Louisiana
Ted Wheeler
Portland, Oregon
Regina Romero
Tucson, Arizona
Libby Schaaf
Oakland, California
Erin Mendenhall
Salt Lake City, Utah
Steve Adler
Austin, Texas
Jim Kenney
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
John Cooper
Nashville, Tennessee
Satya Rhodes-Conway
Madison, Wisconsin
Victoria Woodards
Tacoma, Washington
Jim Brainard
Carmel, Indiana
Mike Duggan
Detroit, Michigan

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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