Jan 14, 2022


After a year of organizing and lobbying, Arts Workers United has secured a groundbreaking congressional event: on January 19th, the House Small Business Committee will hold an unprecedented hearing titled "The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy."  This is our "Mr. Rogers" moment: the impact of next week's hearing will have both immediate tax consequences for you and long-term legislative outcomes that will determine the fate of the Creative Economy for the next century. You are being called into action.

Broadly, the event of this hearing is to tell the economic story of the 5.2M Arts & Culture Workers who drive $919B through over 675,000 businesses, in over 435 Congressional districts across this nation. Representing 4.3% of our GDP, our work generates more household income, jobs, and tax revenue than Agriculture and Mining combined, and $300B more than Transportation. We are big business because we are local business. Our institutions anchor, create, and sustain highly interdependent local commercial ecosystems across the country, grounding retail, transportation, tourism, hospitality, and millions of local jobs in our orbit. Therefore, it is imperative that we be made an economic and legislative priority through this hearing. Without immediate action, our industries--and our communities--face an economic collapse.

Along with our live testimony, we are delivering a set of policy recommendations as a roadmap to relief, recovery, and representation for our industries. Many of our bipartisan proposals have been introduced by the House and Senate, like HR4750, the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, which would immediately give a tax break to rank-and-file arts workers who are in immediate need of economic relief. You can read more in the attached documents about a host of other common sense initiatives that will ease the tax burdens on individual workers while increasing the investment in commercial, non-profit, and arts-related businesses across the nation. And if you want, you can endorse them all here in less than three simple minutes! Easy!

Finally, and most importantly, we need your testimony for the congressional record. You have until February 3, 2022 to submit. We encourage you to write up something short and impactful. This committee is particularly interested in “recommendations for investments in key infrastructure and a roadmap for bringing arts, culture, and creativity into the center of long-term recovery.” Of note: while they are definitely still having some dialogue about COVID-related recovery questions, they’re also interested in more systemic/ongoing shifts that would help supercharge the creative economy and support creative workers. But you don't have to be a policy wonk to submit testimony--you can go to this letter template here which tells the SBC to pass all existing arts legislation. And feel free to make it your own! Easy!

How to submit testimony: Lauren Finks, who can be emailed at lauren.finks@mail.house.gov, is the House contact for statements. Make it clear that your testimony is related to the “Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy” hearing. Submit by Feb 3, 2022. Easy!

This is a singular moment in American history. We are resetting the narrative for the Creative Worker in America. And we need a mass mobilization.

The stage is set. The script is ready.

All that's left is for you to act.

In solidarity and gratitude,

Matthew-Lee Erlbach  
Co-Founder, Arts Workers United