New York— Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has partnered with hundreds of producers across the country to demand billions in emergency funding for arts institutions. 

“Emergency arts funding means a healthier arts scene, and a stronger overall local economy for cities and towns across the country that depend on the arts,” said Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “We are proud to see so many theaters in so many states say with one voice that Congress must act.” 

More than 260 theaters representing producers in 37 states and the District of Columbia have signed the letter, which was delivered to Congressional leadership today. 

The letter reads in part:

"The pandemic has decimated the live performing arts. Our industry was one of the first to shut down, and our venues remain dark in most states. According to one national study, the industry has already realized $9 billion in losses. That is why we are writing to seek an emergency $9 billion in supplemental funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

“Whether we are employers or workers, we are not only proud of our creative accomplishments but also recognize our vital contribution to our local economies. That is why Congress must act to invest in additional arts funding at all levels that ensures local arts employers have the resources they need to quickly recover and reopen when appropriate. 

“The arts and entertainment are responsible for more than four million jobs, and they power a sector responsible for $877.8 billion in value and 4.5% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Furthermore, they are an important generator of additional jobs and GDP in the larger economy: the average nonprofit arts attendee spends another $31.41 per person, per show beyond the cost of admission, according to Americans for the Arts. That includes spending at restaurants, parking and even the babysitter. Nationally, this spending supports 2.3 million jobs in all 50 states, provides $46.6 billion in household income and generates $15.7 billion in total government revenue.”

Read the full letter, with the full list of partners, here.

In addition to fighting for emergency arts funding, Actors’ Equity is pushing for relief for workers, including a renewal of expired unemployment provisions, and a 100 percent federal COBRA health insurance subsidy. 

Other priorities include low interest loans for theaters that do not qualify for NEA funding, restoring the business tax deduction for the purchase of live entertainment tickets and the passage of H.R. 3121, the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act. Read more on the priorities of creative professionals for recovery.

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA.  #EquityWorks

September 17, 2020