Chair Pingree Statement at The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations Hearing

2021-03-25 13:05

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations Hearing.

COVID-19 has taken a grave toll on communities across the country. Its dire impacts have been far reaching and today we will examine how the pandemic has affected the Arts and Humanities sector. By their very nature, many of these organizations, like museums and performing arts groups, are inherently dependent on interaction with their consumers. Workers in these industries have faced high unemployment, disrupted programming, reduced funding streams, and a challenging decision of when and how to reopen safely for their customers and their employees.

Last year, Congress provided much needed relief, appropriating $75 million dollars to each Endowment through the CARES Act. But the needs are, of course, far greater and so I was pleased that an additional $135 million dollars was provided for each endowment in the recent American Rescue Plan.

The National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Research and Analysis estimates that these relief funds will support around 234,000 jobs in the arts. These funds will provide a much-needed respite for organizations until their normal funding streams can resume.

In April of 2020, the National Endowment for the Humanities estimated that museums and historic sites were reporting losses of around $1 billion a month.

The National Endowment for the Arts estimates that, “While the national unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2020 was approximately six percent, the rate for dancers/choreographers was 77.8 percent; actors, 47.6 percent; and musicians, 21.5 percent.”

These are sobering statistics about the state of our arts and humanities organizations across the country, and it is important to remember that there are real people behind those numbers and that is the purpose of the hearing today.

The witnesses who have agreed to speak with us today represent a wide swath of arts and humanities groups from across the country. I look forward to hearing from them what federal funding through the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities has done to help these organizations and their communities, and what work still needs to be done.

Our witnesses are all integral to the arts and humanities in their communities. It is my hope that today they will help us understand better the on-the-ground reality faced by those working in the arts and humanities during this pandemic and the outlook for recovery for these organizations.

I would now like to welcome our panelists:
• Kathleen Mundell who is the Director of Cultural Resources, Inc. in Rockport, Maine.
• Debbie Lenk who is the Executive Director of the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.
• Ulysses Slaughter who is the Project Manager for Chester Made in Chester, Pennsylvania.

117th Congress