Be An #ArtsHero / Arts Workers United is proud to announce its co-founder Carson Elrod will testify in a Congressional House Hearing before the Small Business Committee (SBC) chaired by Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) on the Arts and Culture Sector titled “The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy.” Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United has worked closely with Democratic and Republican representatives over the past eight months, advocating for a hearing on the Creative Economy. The remote hearing will take place Wednesday, January 19 at 10 a.m. ET, and will be the first in history to draw attention to the Arts and Culture economy in its entirety as a whole sector. To view a livestream of the hearing, click here.
Representing nearly 5.2 million American workers, the arts sector is a major component of the economy. The Creative Economy was one of the hardest hit sectors and the Omicron surge has provided even more challenges to an industry that largely relies on people being to assemble together to witness live events. The hearing will provide recommendations for investments in key infrastructure and provide a roadmap for bringing arts, culture, and creativity into the center of long-term recovery.
Carson Elrod, co-founder of Be An #ArtsHero, which has evolved into Arts Workers United, will serve as one of four witnesses alongside Ms. Sandra Karas (Actors’ Equity Association), Ms. Raeanne Presley (Presleys’ Theater, testifying on behalf of the National Independent Venue Association NIVA) and Ms. Nataki Garrett (Oregon Shakespeare Theatre).
“From the earliest days of Be An #ArtsHero, our objective in every meeting the past two years was to get Congress to hold a hearing on the entirety of the American Creative Economy. We are humbled, honored, and thrilled to be invited to testify before the Small Business Committee on behalf of distressed Arts Workers everywhere,“ said Elrod.
“As the Omicron variant sweeps across our nation, once again shutting down live events, it only further drives home how vital it is that Congress understands our Creative Economy desperately needs dedicated relief, recovery, and representation,” continued Jenny Grace Makholm, co-founder of Be An #ArtsHero.
Makholm added, “This hearing is a culmination of decades of work from numerous organizations in our community who have tirelessly advocated for proportionate relief to maintain the human and physical infrastructure of the interdependent economic engine that is the Arts & Culture sector.”
“The time to reset the narrative for the creative worker is now,” said Matthew-Lee Erlbach, co-founder of Be An #ArtsHero.
Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United wishes to extend sincere thanks to so many advocates and organizations including Americans for the Arts, The Dramatists Guild of America, American Theatre Wing, Music Workers Alliance, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Performing Arts Alliance, Cultural Advocacy Group, Creative States Coalition, Dance USA, American Circus Alliance, Music Policy Forum, Costume Industry Coalition, Roadie Cares, Opera America, and Counterpoint have all organized and promoted the colossal value of our Creative Economy, in conjunction with Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United, among many more.
During the hearing, Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United hopes to reinforce loud and clear the following:
Arts & Culture Sector is BIG business
- $919 billion in value added to the U.S. economy
- 5.2 million jobs across the United States are Arts & Culture jobs.
- 4.3% of the U.S. GDP (more than Agriculture and Mining combined, and bigger than Transportation or Tourism)
- Arts & Culture generates $265B more than Transportation, is five times bigger than Agriculture, three times more than Education, and a bigger part of the economy than Construction and Mining combined.
Arts & Culture Sector has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic
- Merely between April and July 2020 the Arts & Culture sector experienced $150 billion in lost sales
- During the height of the pandemic, 63% of Arts Workers experienced unemployment and 95% lost creative income.
- BIPOC Arts Workers had higher rates of unemployment than white artists in 2020 due to the pandemic (69% vs. 60%) and lost a larger percentage of their creative income (61% vs. 56%).
- As per Johns Hopkins University, as of November 2021, the percentage of job losses at nonprofit arts organizations remains more than 3 times worse than the average of all nonprofits (-13.0% vs. -3.9%).
- “Arts, entertainment, and recreation” businesses are among the most likely to take longer than six months to recover from the pandemic,’ as per the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey.
Arts & Culture Sector is the key to “building back beautifully”
- 68% of tourism is cultural, and cultural tourists spend nearly twice as much as other tourists.
- Arts Help GROW economies and provide economic resilience in downtime
- Arts Turn Around Distressed Communities
- $1 of NEA spending leverages $9 back in public and private spending.
Social Media Call-to-Action
While only four witnesses may testify in this hearing, Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United encourages all Arts Workers to make their voices heard and testify across the country on their social media channels to spread awareness and solidarity in a Day of Testimony. For details, visit Be An #ArtsHero on social media channels, or BeAnArtsHero.com.
Instructions on the social media call-to-action can be found here.
Be An #ArtsHero has evolved into Arts Workers United and is a national, non-partisan grassroots movement that emphasizes Arts & Culture’s contribution to the economy. Be An #ArtsHero / Arts Workers United is an intersectional, sector-wide coalition that exists to defend and position the Arts & Culture sector of the U.S. as a legislative priority for support and investment commensurate with our socio-economic value. BAAH’s Open Letter to the US Senate was signed by nearly 20,000 supporters, including rank and file, blue collar Arts Workers; leaders of major Arts organizations; and countless high-profile celebrities. ARTS WORKERS UNITE: 100 Days of Art & Activism, launched in 2021 and mirrored the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris Administration, and highlighted playwrights, cartoonists, poetry, and dance and circus organizations.
Be An #ArtsHero / Arts Workers United is endorsed by American Theater Wing, American Circus Alliance, Broadway Cares/EquityFightsAIDS, The Dramatists Guild of America, Costume Industry Coalition, Counterpoint, Dance/USA, Young Audiences Coalition, Ovation TV, FreelancersUnion, ExtendPUA, Touring Professionals Alliance, SIMS Foundation and many more.