CERA - A Bill for Arts Workers

On Friday, August 13, 2021, U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) and Jay Obernolte (R-CA), introduced the bipartisan Creative Economy Revitalization Act. The Senate companion of the Creative Economy Revitalization Act will be introduced by U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). This bill would help revamp the creative economy through the creation of a workforce grants program to employ artists and writers to create publicly available art. 

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Creative workers have been among the most severely impacted by the COVID pandemic. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, 63% of creative workers experienced unemployment, translating to over 2 million Americans. Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has lost an estimated 15.2 billion dollars in the arts and cultural sector alone. Just as important as these livelihoods is the culture and well-being of the communities to which they contribute. This bill is likely to be very beneficial for dramatists, as well as for many others in the creative arts community. 

"The theatre industry was hit especially hard by the COVID pandemic. Dramatists, in particular, were not protected by many of the ameliorative efforts made by government, which focused their efforts on helping venues and employees," noted Ralph Sevush, DG Executive Director of Business Affairs. "However, the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) is a WPA-inspired jobs bill that would put creative workers, including dramatists, back to work. This bill, just introduced in the House, would make available $300 million in commissions and grants to communities in order to fund local arts programming, including theatrical productions and the dramatists that author them. This attempt to rebuild our arts economy infrastructure will be supported by another bill, the 21st-Century Federal Writers’ Project Act (H.R.3054), inspired by the WPA's Federal Writers Project, which offers another $60 million specifically to writers, to chronicle the pandemic and our national response to it.  These bills reserve to authors the copyrights they create, so your work remains yours. We urge you to support these legislative initiatives that have (finally!) been designed to support you. " 

The Creative Economy Revitalization Act would: 

  • Get creative workers back into jobs by creating a competitive workforce grants program within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Administer grants to eligible government, non-profit, for-profit organizations, and state and local workforce boards through the Department of Labor in coordination with the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Require that grantees create art that is public and accessible to the public, such as free concert series, large-scale murals, photography exhibits, published stories, or dance performances. 

"Now's the time," said DG Political Engagement Committee Chair Nikkole Salter. " With an influx of $15 Billion to support Arts venues hit hard by COVID, our sector's contributions are FINALLY starting to be acknowledged for the value we bring.  But venues are not necessarily artists.  And the trickle down from arts venues isn't guaranteed to get artists back to work.   CERA IS THAT GUARANTEE commissioning artists of all kinds to work making public art that will be available to everyone, no matter their demographic.  Do you need another reason to write your representatives?!  Do not let this moment pass us by!!  If you want to work, and to infuse this culture with the glory of art, SUPPORT CERA!"

Want to help support CERA? Check out this toolkit for suggested captions, hashtags, social posts, and more!

Find the full legislation text HERE. 

A one pager on the legislation can be found HERE. 

This legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Ted Lieu (D-CA). The Senate bill will be cosponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

The Creative Economy Revitalization Act is endorsed by over 175 organizations, including the Freelancers Union, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, City of Albuquerque Department of Arts & Culture, Americans for the Arts, Authors Guild, American Planning Association, Arts Workers United, National Alliance of Community and Economic Development Agencies (NACEDA), U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC), National Writers Union, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Actors’ Equity Association, and Department for Professional Employees - AFL-CIO. 

Find the full list of endorsements HERE.

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