Very Latest News on COVID-19 Relief Options
March 31, 2020
Details are rapidly becoming available that will help orchestras, their workforces, and community partners understand how to access multiple forms of relief administered at the federal and state levels in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Orchestras nationwide have participated in the League's ongoing actions to advocate for relief, alongside the broader nonprofit and arts sectors. Three federal relief packages have been signed into law. With each passing day, federal agencies are issuing guidelines that spell out eligibility, documentation requirements, and the scope of support available.
The League of American Orchestras hosts a dedicated Federal Relief Webpage where we are compiling an overview of provisions that are available to help orchestras, employees, self-employed musicians, teaching artists, and other workers. The page presents the big picture on various relief provisions, and links are being added to the relevant government guidelines, so be sure to check back often.
Here are a few highlights of new developments within the past 48 hours:
- Families First Paid Leave Provisions: Beginning April 1, new COVID-19 related paid leave requirements will be in effect. The U.S. Department of Labor has created a 59-question FAQ for employers, posters describing employee rights under the new law, and a bulletin announcing limited enforcement through April 17, as employers learn how to come into compliance.
- SBA Economic Injury Disaster Relief and Loan Advances: On March 30, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a new streamlined application platform for organizations and self-employed individuals applying for emergency loans directly from the SBA, including $10,000 advance payments that will be forgiven by the federal government.
- Paycheck Protection Program and Loan Forgiveness: Local lenders backed by the SBA are rapidly preparing to process loan applications from employers with fewer than 500 employees, as well as applications from self-employed workers. These aim to support eight weeks of eligible costs through loan forgiveness. Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has posted an overview for borrowers, an overview for lenders, and an example of the loan application form. Of particular concern to orchestras has been the question of how the 500 employee limit will be calculated.
On the question of calculating the 500 employee threshold, preliminary U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines to borrowers, refer to the following SBA calculation. Further clarification may follow: “This is the average number of people employed for each pay period over the business’s latest 12 calendar months. Any person on the payroll must be included as one employee regardless of hours worked or temporary status. The number of employees of a concern in business less than 12 months is the average for each pay period that it has been in business.”
Reminder! The League is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, April 1 providing a top-line overview of what is known about COVID-19 relief, along with insights into the new need for crisis management through mid- and longer-term financial planning and strategic thinking. Register here.
Please stay tuned as the League continues to advocate for orchestras and to keep you informed about the full array of relief provisions as further details become available. We know that the relief provisions available will not be enough to meet all of the short- and long-term needs of orchestras, musicians, and the communities they serve. As Congress and the Administration consider new forms of federal economic assistance that may be targeted or widespread, orchestras should continue to contact elected officials to let them know that further relief is needed to address the unexpected loss of event-dependent revenue, income for musicians, and declines in charitable contributions.