United States Conference of Mayors Adopt Resolution Urging Congress to Provide Long-Term Relief for Arts & Cultural Institutions

By Chris Ruel

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spearheaded efforts by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) to adopt a resolution urging Congress to provide long-term relief funding for arts and cultural institutions as the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated within the United States, according to a press release issued by the USCM on July 1.

The USCM is the official non-partisan organization representing 1,400 cities with populations of 30,000 or more.

The mayors, in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Alliance, a lobbying organization representing arts organizations working with the San Francisco arts and culture sector, seek to reinforce federal policy recommendations put forward by 60 national arts organizations, calling upon Congress to take prompt and urgent action to ensure the recovery and survival of essential arts and culture organizational partners.

The resolution is a follow-up to the mayoral letter signed by 23 mayors and sent to Congress in May 2020, outlining 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.

“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,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed, the former Executive Director of the San Francisco African American Art & Culture Complex, in a press release.

As of June 15, 2020, losses sustained by the arts and cultural sector have reached $6.7 billion, affecting  5 million-plus workers throughout the nation. In 2017, the arts and culture sector contributed over $877.8 billion to the US economy.

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).