Latest News and Action on COVID-19 Federal Relief Efforts
April 17, 2020
White House to Defer to States on Re-Opening
A document issued by the White House on April 16 defers to state governors and regional leaders to implement a three-phase approach to re-opening workplaces and public gatherings, and only after a sustained reduction in COVID-19 symptoms and cases. The broad guidelines in Opening Up America Again are non-binding and suggest that:
First phases of re-opening would follow advancements in testing protocols, adoption of workforce protocols for testing, social distancing, and protective equipment, and fourteen days of a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases.
Phase one suggests “large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols,” while schools, day cares, and camps remain closed, and social gatherings would be limited to no more than ten people.
Phase two would limit social gatherings to no more than 50 people and recommends “moderate physical distancing protocols” for large venues.
Phase three encourages social distancing practices at social gatherings of any size and suggests large venues would operate under “limited physical distancing protocols.”
While the document does not specify physical distancing protocols, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is maintaining Resources for Large Community Events and Mass Gatherings and guidance on Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation, which recommend a distance of six feet apart. Tracking developments within your state and region will continue to be the best source of projections on when orchestras may plan to resume concerts and community learning events and make preparations to accommodate a safe workplace. The League has created state-by-state discussion groups for orchestras stakeholders within the League’s membership, available through www.League360.org.
League Calls on Congress to Expand COVID-19 Relief
The League of American Orchestras delivered to Congress yesterday a new slate of policy recommendations (PDF) crafted in partnership with more than 40 national arts and cultural organizations, urging the federal government to do more to support the arts sector as funding is exhausted for programs created under the CARES Act.
We’re asking Congress to broaden eligibility for employment protection programs and forgivable loans, take immediate action that will ensure self-employed musicians can access federal support, and increase relief funding administered by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with state and local arts agencies. The League’s ongoingone-stop advocacy campaign provides talking points and a sample letter to Congress that can be easily tailored to focus on areas most critical to your orchestra’s capacity to engage communities and support workers. Communicating with your elected officials is also an important opportunity to highlight the many ways orchestras are delivering on mission and serving communities amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Congress is currently attempting to add funding to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Paycheck Protection Program, and other federal relief resources that have been swiftly depleted, and will then turn attention to expanded and new forms of federal assistance. Stay tuned for ongoing League policy action alerts!
Weighing In on the Fine Print of Loan Programs
The guidelines that are currently in use by applicants and lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are now open for public comment through May 15. The League will be weighing in on behalf of the orchestra field, and we encourage you to continue to use our online portal to collect your questions related to various forms of federal relief. Of top concern is the lack of clear guidance regarding the loan forgiveness process, which has yet to be fully addressed by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration. The League is simultaneously calling on Congress to remove the 500-employee cap on PPP eligibility and to increase funding for the program.
On April 16, the League submitted comments to the Federal Reserve (PDF), seeking nonprofit eligibility for a proposed Main Street Lending program and asking that further low-interest loan programs take into consideration the nonprofit sector’s need for resources that will stabilize operations as orchestras and their nonprofit partners serve communities during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
Reminder! League Federal Relief Resources
The League of American Orchestras is providing ongoing advocacy, technical assistance, and a dedicated Federal Assistance Center to help the full breadth of our membership navigate the changing landscape of opportunities to seek assistance. Bookmark this page, share it among your colleagues, and check back often for the latest updates.
And a final reminder: eligible organizations planning to apply for an NEA CARES Act grant should note the quickly-approaching April 22 deadline. Be sure to review the applications guidelines as well as Frequently Asked Questions, and upon reviewing all posted information feel welcome to direct questions to NEA music specialists Court Burns or Anya Nykyforiak.