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Advocacy Alert – Urge Your U.S. Legislators to Include Museums in COVID-19 Relief
March 19, 2020 • Advocacy, Features & News

CT Humanities is advising you of this advocacy alert from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). AASLH is working with AAM and other museum associations to make the case for museums in this time of crisis. Museums of all sizes are experiencing closure, attendance drop-offs, canceled events, and possible or actual layoffs.

Please call your Congressional delegation today and ask for at least $4 billion for nonprofit museums in COVID-19 (coronavirus) economic relief legislation to provide emergency assistance through June.

In addition, we need to urge Congress to adopt a temporary “universal charitable deduction” to help incentivize charitable giving which is expected to decline in the months ahead. Nationwide, museums are losing at least $33 million a day due to closures as a result of COVID-19 and will be in desperate need of significant federal support to maintain jobs, secure our cultural heritage, help to rebuild our nation’s tourism industry – and simply to survive the months to come.
Please ask your U.S. legislators, especially Senators, if they will be one of our champions. Telephone calls are best. A Congressional directory and more is at https://www.congressweb.com/aam/#/

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TALKING POINTS
Museums of all types (including history museums, art museums, zoos, aquaria, gardens, science centers, and historic sites) are a $50 billion industry, employing 726,000 people.

Museums have been suddenly and severely impacted by the sudden closures all across the country, to prevent the spread of coronavirus; more than 75% are closed at this point for at least two weeks. Many cannot just shut their doors – but have ongoing obligations like zoos/aquaria continuing to care for their animals, art and history museums continuing to provide safe environments for cultural heritage, science and children’s museums (among others) providing educational resources and online events to assist the 28 million students (and their parents) home from school for weeks/months. They are continuing their service to communities while losing, on average, 45% of their revenue for weeks and months. Many have fewer than one month’s reserves. Most have committed to continuing to pay staff for some time, but this will not be sustainable.

Museums’ other major source of revenue, charitable contributions, are at risk given the stock market’s volatility – and continue to be at risk due to the 2017 tax law that effectively reduces the incentive for Americans to make donations. We estimate 25% or more museums will not reopen if closures and financial decline continues for much longer; this will disproportionately hurt small and rural communities and lower socioeconomic visitors.

Museums will be vital to the nation’s recovery – and recovery of communities all over the country. As places of inspiration/hope, gathering, and education – and among the nation’s most trusted resources – museums will bring people together, educate the public, and help to address/avoid xenophobia and other potential negative outcomes.

We estimate museums need economic relief of $4 billion to keep their staffs employed through the next few months. Will you be one of the champions?

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