NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One hundred New York City-based art professionals are calling on Congress for additional pandemic relief, saying their industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
Performing “Will I?” from “RENT” and clutching signs listing their professions, dozens of local artists rallied to save the city’s art community Monday in Times Square.
“Our arts and culture sector contributes $877 billion to the economy. We’re 4.5% of the GDP and we comprise 5.1 million American workers,” Be an Arts Hero organizer Jenny Grace Makholm told CBS2. “We were among the first to close and will be one of the last to reopen.”
The group called “Be An #ArtsHero” wants Congress to extend federal pandemic unemployment compensation, subsidize COBRA and allocate about $44 billion specifically for the arts and culture sector.
“The federal relief that has come forth has been… a Band-Aid over a bullet wound. It’s just not enough,” said Makholm. “For such a large portion of our sector, we need proportionate relief.”
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Following the performance in Times Square, the group paused for 100 seconds of silence — one second for every U.S. senator they’re calling on to create change.
For many actors, including Charl Brown, who was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Smokey Robinson in “Motown: The Musical,” the past several months have been beyond difficult.
“We’ve all gone without work for months, and there are months yet to go,” he said. “It’s a melancholy feeling, it’s almost unreal, it feels very post-apocalyptic.”
Still, Brown is hopeful, especially if legislators do more to help.
“I choose the side of hope. I do know that we will be back and when we come back, it’ll be stronger than ever, and people will be that much more starved for entertainment,” he said.
The group said the arts community is a big part of the American economy and without it, the country will struggle to recover.
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