A grassroots call for government assistance for the arts

Be An #ArtsHero – an intersectional grassroots social media campaign organized to mobilize a movement in support of emergency arts relief from the government – calls on the 5.1 million Americans employed in the US arts and culture sector, and those served by the arts, to urge all 100 Senators to pass massive economic relief by August 1.

The call for funding is based on economic data that proves there can be no full American economic recovery without an arts and culture recovery. The arts and culture sector is 4.5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and is responsible for up to $877 billion in value added to the US economy, according to data collected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). Arts organizations add more to GDP than agriculture, transportation, construction, and tourism, and money invested in the arts by the government has been shown to have an exponential economic return; for every $1 of NEA funding, it leverages $9 in private and public dollars that fuel a dynamic cultural economy.

According to information released by Be An #ArtsHero,  statistics also show that the average annual growth rate for arts and culture outperforms that of the total US economy, meaning that investing in arts and culture is an essential tactic for propelling the economy out of a recession. From 2014 to 2016, the average annual growth rate in the contribution of arts and culture was 4.16%, nearly double the total US economy’s 2.22% growth rate. To that end, Be An #ArtsHero advocates that the arts and culture sector receive relief funding that is proportionate to the contribution it provides to the US economy.

“We all know how important the arts have been during this crisis. Whether it’s watching Netflix, playing video games, listening to music, livestreaming play readings, socially distanced concerts, or finally getting to see Hamilton, the arts are getting us through COVID-19,” said Be An #ArtsHero Citizen Organizer Carson Elrod. The campaign urges all Americans to reflect on the impact the arts and artists have had on their time during the stay-at-home orders, and asks them to join the movement in advance of the expiration of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) on August 1.

If you’d like to be part of the movement, you can take the following steps:

  • Visit BeAnArtsHero.com
  • Read and download the Action Packet for step-by-step instructions on how individuals and organizations can take the necessary steps to convince Senators of the importance of immediate action
  • Contact your Senators (the Action Packet has template letters)
  • Share the resource graphics on your website, social media profiles, and emails
  • Follow “Be An Arts Hero” on social media and use #ArtsHero.

“The arts and culture sector is not a luxury, it is a cornerstone of the American economy and necessitates proportionate relief immediately,” said Be An #ArtsHero Citizen Organizer Jenny Grace Makholm. We all need the arts, and now the arts need us more than ever, so if you love the arts and appreciate their value, please help.

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Deb Miller
Deb Miller (PhD, Art History) is the Senior Correspondent and Editor for New York City, where she grew up seeing every show on Broadway. She is an active member of the Outer Critics Circle and served for more than a decade as a Voter, Nominator, and Judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. Outside of her home base in NYC, she has written and lectured extensively on the arts and theater throughout the world (including her many years in Amsterdam, London, and Venice, and her extensive work and personal connections with Andy Warhol and his circle) and previously served as a lead writer for Stage Magazine, Phindie, and Central Voice.


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