As orchestras innovate to serve their communities in new ways in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, federal agencies, state departments of labor, and local lenders are taking steps to initiate relief programs that can support orchestras alongside the broader arts and nonprofit sectors. 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. Here are some of the top developments from the past ten days:
Webinars and Legal Assistance: Two League webinars are now available to guide viewers through specific questions about how various forms of federal relief apply to orchestras and their workforce. The League is also offering member orchestras individualized technical assistance on the COVID-19 federal relief opportunities from qualified legal experts from the Pryor Cashman law firm.
Paycheck Protection Program: Lenders nationwide began accepting applications for forgivable loans to cover eight weeks of eligible payroll costs, while the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration issued interim rules (PDF) and answers to a growing list of Frequently Asked Questions. While some lenders began processing applications, others are delayed as they seek to build loan systems to accommodate both eligible organizations and independent contractors. Meanwhile, the Administration and Congress are negotiating over adding more funding to meet the overwhelming need for payroll support. The League has joined other leaders in the nonprofit sector in asking Congress to broaden access (PDF) to the Paycheck Protection Program.
Pandemic Unemployment Benefits: State-by-state, departments of labor are rushing to create new systems to administer enhanced unemployment benefits for unprecedented numbers of unemployed workers. The Future of Music Coalition is tracking which states are prepared to receive unemployment claims from self-employed workers.