The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM)—the official non‐partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, of which there are over 1,400 such cities in the country today—adopted a resolution urging Congress to provide long‐term arts and culture relief funding in the wake of the COVID‐19 pandemic. Mayors from cities across the nation, in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Alliance reinforcing federal policy recommendations advanced by more than 60 national arts organizations, called on Congress to address the urgent needs of the nation’s arts and culture sector and to take prompt and coordinated action to ensure the recovery and survival of essential arts and culture organizational partners.
“As the former Executive Director of the San Francisco African American Art & Culture Complex, I saw first‐hand the impact that art and culture has on communities,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “Without significant support, communities throughout the country are at risk of losing not only the arts and culture that helps shape who we are as a people, but also the important role that it plays inspiring creativity, enriching lives, and providing jobs.”
“The arts, music, and cultural sectors speak to more than our yearning for entertainment—they teach us about our history and ourselves, strengthen our vast creative workforce, and embody the cherished American ideal of freedom of expression,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “With Mayor Breed leading the charge, we will push Congress to deliver critical funding to keep our iconic arts sector alive through the COVID-19 pandemic and help it thrive when this crisis ends.”
A follow-up to the mayoral letter that was signed by 23 mayors from cities across the nation and sent to Congress in May 2020, the resolution lays out specific long-term relief efforts, including:
- Extending the duration of unemployment insurance for artists, arts professionals, and self-employed workers whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through the calendar year 2022, understanding that many will continue to be out of work as the economy struggles to regain its foothold for the next three years.
- Extending SBA and Paycheck Protection Program assistance for artists and arts professionals and providing additional forgivable SBA loans to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, small LLCs; eliminating the 500-employee cap for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; and providing further flexibility regarding the percentage of loan forgiveness for payroll versus rent.
- Enabling equitable participation in artistic, educational, and cultural online activity through ensuring the most vulnerable populations have access to free or low-cost high-speed broadband program offerings.
- Supporting policies that will ensure rapid processing of artist visas and consular appointments that are essential to supporting international cultural activity.
- Ensuring that dedicated funding is provided to the arts and culture industry to help build out its health and safety infrastructure and that they are included in the legislative discussions related to business disruption insurance and liability.
Contributing more than $877.8 billion to the nation’s economy in 2017, the arts and culture sector is an economic engine that directly employs more than 5 million workers nationwide. The current losses sustained by the arts and cultural sector throughout the nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached a staggering $6.7 billion as of June 15, 2020.
The 26 mayors who introduced and co-signed the resolution are (in alphabetical order): Jesse Arreguin (Berkeley, CA); Rusty Bailey (Riverside, CA); Bryan K. Barnett (Rochester Hills, MI); London N. Breed (San Francisco, CA); Christopher L. Cabaldon (West Sacramento, CA); Jenny A. Durkan (Seattle, WA); Kevin Falcouner (San Diego, CA); Greg Fischer (Louisville, KY); Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA); Robert Garcia (Long Beach, CA); Michael B. Hancock (Denver, CO); Elizabeth B. Kautz (Burnsville, MN); Jim Kenney (Philadelphia, PA); Rick Kriseman (St. Petersburg, FL); Sam Liccardo (San Jose, CA); Lori E. Lightfoot(Chicago, IL); William May (Frankfort, KY); Lauren McLean (Boise, ID); Regina Romero (Tucson, AZ); David M. Sander Ph.D (Rancho Cordova, CA); Libby Schaaf (Oakland, CA); Harry Sidhu (Anaheim, CA); Darrell Steinberg(Sacramento, CA); Sylvester Turner (Houston, TX); Martin J. Walsh (Boston, MA); and Victoria Woodards (Tacoma, WA).
The 23 mayors who co-signed the mayoral letter to Congress in May 2020 are (in alphabetical order): Steve Adler (Austin, TX); Jim Brainard (Carmel, IN); London N. Breed (San Francisco, CA); LaToya Cantrell (New Orleans, LA); John Cooper(Nashville, TN); Bill de Blasio (New York, NY); Mike Duggan (Detroit, MI); Jenny A. Durkan (Seattle, WA); Kate Gallego (Phoenix, AZ); Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA); Michael B. Hancock (Denver, CO); Jim Kenney (Philadelphia, PA); Sam Liccardo (San Jose, CA); Lori Lightfoot (Chicago, IL); Erin Mendenhall (Salt Lake City, UT); Satya Rhodes-Conway (Madison, WI); Regina Romero (Tucson, AZ);Libby Schaaf (Oakland, CA); Darrell Steinberg (Sacramento, CA); Sylvester Turner (Houston, TX); Martin J. Walsh (Boston, MA); Ted Wheeler (Portland, OR); and Victoria Woodards (Tacoma, WA).