Congress should support cultural economic relief

24th March 2020, 1:24 pm

Rubbing of bronze plaque by Steven Reigns. Photo by Motorboot Photography.

Congress is still moving on consideration of economic relief and recovery packages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact across many industries.

There could be at least $4 billion for nonprofits in COVID-19 economic relief legislation to provide emergency assistance through June. We would like Congress to adopt a temporary “universal charitable deduction” to help incentivize charitable giving which is expected to decline in the months ahead. Nationwide, cultural institutions are losing at least $33 million a day due to closures as a result of COVID-19 and are in desperate need of significant federal support to maintain jobs, secure our cultural heritage  – and simply to survive the months to come.

Our community is robust and diverse, including aquariums, arboreta, art museums, botanic gardens, children’s museums, cultural museums, historic sites, history museums, maritime museums, military museums, natural history museums, planetariums, presidential libraries, public gardens, science and technology centers, and zoos and play an essential role in the nation’s educational infrastructure.

Any federal support that directly supports workers can offset personnel costs, which make up a significant proportion of the average museum’s operating budget. We also encourage inclusion of small nonprofit businesses, including cultural institutions, in any support programs designed to help small businesses continue paying employees.

Congress should ensure communities are able to support their local nonprofits during this crisis by enacting a targeted, temporary giving incentive that enables all Americans, regardless of whether they claim itemize deductions, to receive a tax incentive for giving to the work of charitable nonprofits, responding to, or suffering from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are able, Tom’s Foundation can use your direct support – and we urge you to contact your representatives in Washington asking #CongressSaveCulture


Congress has passed a massive COVID-19 economic relief bill that includes important support for museums. Late Wednesday night the Senate unanimously approved the bill, the House approved it and the president signed the bill. This is the third round of legislation providing emergency responses, and by far the largest, at an estimated $2.2 trillion.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) are slated to receive $200 million collectively ($50 million for IMLS and $75 million for each endowment). All three agencies are authorized to provide direct grants to support cultural operations and matching requirements are waived.

Published: 24th March 2020


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