We are fortunate that New York State is represented in the US Congress by members of the House of Representatives and Senate whose steadfast support of our museum sector has historically helped sustain our federal funding agencies.
New York Congressional Representatives were also instrumental in passing the CARES Act, which included provisions that helped many museums in New York State through this worldwide health crisis.
The charts below detail how federal funds included in the CARES Act have been distributed in New York.
However, as the charts illustrate, the funding was inadequate. If you look at funding that was allocated from the CARES Act to corporations, such as the airline industry, which employs the same number of people as our museums, the response was also disproportionate. New York’s museums have an economic impact of $5.4 billion a year; nationally museums contribute $50 billion to our economy.
Now the federal government has another shot at helping our nation through this crisis. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act on May 15th. The Senate’s counter proposals have yet to take shape and come to a vote. We know the bill has the support of our New York delegation. Please take a moment today to reach out to friends and family in other states and ask them to contact their Senators to express their support for the Heroes Act.
A July 20th report from the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand estimates that nearly 850,000 New Yorkers are out of work as our nation approaches the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Although museum professionals are a small percentage of those unemployed, we are essential partners whose work is woven into the social, educational, spiritual, and economic fabric of our communities.
In a June survey conducted by the American Association of Museums, 16% of museum directors responded that there is a high risk their museums could close within 16 months without additional funding. We have heard from museums who have laid off staff, cut back hours, won’t be opening in 2020, and might not be able to reopen again. We need your help to determine how New York’s numbers compare. Please take two minutes to answer ten questions in this New York-specific survey. We will keep the survey open for the next ten days; please share it widely among colleagues. The report will help make our critical needs clearer to our state and federal representatives.
We will share the data gathered, the final distribution of funding to Museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other insights on Friday, August 21 at noon during our next Virtual Meet Up. Please register here, include any questions that you have relevant to the state of our field now, and join us on August 21.