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“Be An #ARTSHERO” Unveils The Defend Arts Workers Now (Dawn) Act  

PLSN Staff • News • September 2, 2020


NEW YORK — “Be An #ArtsHero,” an intersectional grassroots campaign to get the U.S. Senate to pass emergency Arts relief, unveils the DAWN Act: Defend Arts Workers Now. As the only comprehensive Arts Worker Relief policy, this bill authorizes $43.85 billion in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to the operators, employees, and artists of live venues, recording venues, cultural spaces, and related businesses that remain shuttered for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.

The Arts & Culture sector, a cornerstone of the American economy, adds $877 billion in value added to the economy annually, provides 4.5% of GDP, and employs 5.1 million Americans. The DAWN Act’s $43.85 billion package is 5% of the sector’s value added to the economy, which is proportionate to the $50 billion allocated to the top ten airlines in the CARES Act. By comparison, Arts & Culture adds $265 Billion more a year to GDP than the transportation sector.

Due to COVID-19, 62% of arts workers report that they are fully unemployed and 94% have reported an income loss. 41% of Arts & Culture Institutions report that they are not confident they will survive the pandemic, and 90% of music venues report that they will not reopen without relief. Permanent closures on this scale will cause systemic economic collapse in a vibrant ecosystem of mutually-beneficial businesses that rely on Arts & Culture institutions. “The only way our economy will fully recover from this economic darkness is by the light of DAWN. There is NO ECONOMIC RECOVERY WITHOUT A ROBUST ARTS RECOVERY. Our fates are tied together,” says Matthew-Lee Erlbach, author of the bill.

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 investment in the Arts economy will have a positive impact on the whole economy. The relief legislation in DAWN will immediately stabilize thousands of organizations, and prevent millions of arts workers from being personally, professionally, and financially devastated. The bill serves as a complement to the much needed extension of FPUC and 100% COBRA subsidies.

A Sector-Wide Call for Action 

To coincide with the announcement of the DAWN Act, Be An #ArtsHero has dedicated Labor Day as a nationwide Day of Action called “Arts Workers Unite.” Across the country, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Arts Workers will assemble to call on their Senators to advocate for Arts & Culture Workers and institutions. The largest (socially-distanced and masked) demonstration will take place in Times Square, where Broadway luminaries will join. The in-person demonstrations will be accompanied by streamed online events.

The DAWN Act comes on the heels of an OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATORS OF THE 116TH U.S. CONGRESS, written by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, which gained nearly 10,000 signatures from arts workers and the most preeminent arts institutions, demonstrating wide support for the legislation.


Be An #ArtsHero is an intersectional, grassroots movement that emphasizes Arts & Culture’s $877 Billion value added contribution to the economy, highlighting the human and financial toll of letting that contribution collapse. We are a united, sector-wide coalition calling for Congress to extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, subsidize COBRA, and allocate $43.85 Billion in proportionate relief to the Arts & Culture sector. We seek to keep all 5.1 million Americans who work in the Arts alive, in their homes, and with jobs to return to when the crisis

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