Press Release: "Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President" Historic Letter Writing Campaign
Jan 14, 2021
100 Days of Arts and Activism

ON THE EVE OF A NEW ADMINISTRATION MORE THAN 200 AMERICAN THEATRE WRITERS URGE BIDEN/HARRIS ADMINISTRATION TO SUPPORT THE ARTS IN MASSIVE LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN, PART OF BE AN #ARTSHERO’S ARTS WORKERS UNITE: 100 DAYS OF ART AND ACTIVISM, ORGANIZED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE DRAMATISTS GUILD OF AMERICA.

LETTER WRITERS INCLUDE:
LYNN AHRENS, AMANDA GREEN, ADAM GWON, ALESHEA HARRIS, RAJIV JOSEPH, LISA KRON, ANAÏS MITCHELL, MARSHA NORMAN, ROBERT O’HARA, THERESA REBECK, NIKKOLE SALTER, HEIDI SCHRECK, AND MORE

New York, NY (January 14, 2021) – Be An #ArtsHero, the non-partisan grassroots coalition working to mobilize all disciplines and regions of the Arts and Culture sector, today announced “Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President,” a nationwide letter writing campaign, organized in partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America, imploring the incoming administration to prioritize commitment to the Arts. Hundreds of America’s most esteemed playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists are participating by penning their own missives to the President and Vice President Elect, which are now being sent en masse to kick off Be An #ArtsHero’s Arts Workers Unite: 100 Days of Art and Activism. Be An #ArtsHero asserts that the arts are vital to our nation’s soul and our collective humanity, as well as being an essential driver of the economy.

Among other priorities, the letters urge the establishment of the Secretary of Arts & Culture and vow to serve President Biden’s mission to “build back better” and “heal the soul of America.”

Dramatists participating in the letter-writing campaign include Lynn Ahrens, Zakiyyah Alexander, Jaclyn Backhaus, Bekah Brunstetter, Carla Ching, Vichet Chum, Paul Downs Colaizzo, Kevin Coval, Joe DiPietro, Rick Elice, Sara Gancher, Idris Goodwin, Amanda Green, Lauren Gunderson, Adam Gwon, Aleshea Harris, David Ives,Christine Toy Johnson, Rajiv Joseph, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Lisa Kron, Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Craig Lucas, Ken Ludwig, Anaïs Mitchell, Marsha Norman,Robert O'Hara, Matthew Paul Olmos, Jiehae Park, Theresa Rebeck, Sarah Ruhl,Nikkole Salter, Tina Satter, Robert Schenkkan, Heidi Schreck, Madhuri Shekar, V (formerly Eve Ensler), Bess Wohl, Doug Wright, and more.

Letters are available to read at beanartshero.com/letters-100days.

“Though we launched this campaign well before the tragic events that transpired in our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, the devastating consequences of America’s deep divide only underscores the need for the kind of empathy and activism that only great art can inspire,” explained Be An #ArtsHero co-founders Brooke Ishibashi, Carson Elrod, Jenny Grace Makholm, and Matthew-Lee Erlbach.

Be An #ArtsHero adds, “We look to our nation’s artists to help us understand where we have been, who we are, and what is possible. Let us set the stage and rewrite the story. For a better, more equitable society. For economic justice. For a seat at the table. For a working democracy. For the very soul and spirit of this nation.”

These letters set the stage for Inauguration Day as “Day One” of Arts Workers Unite: 100 Days of Art and Activism, calling on our nation’s Arts & Culture Workers to stand up, be counted, and be heard. The roll out of 100 Days of Art and Activism will mirror the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris administration, engaging the nation with legislation, hard data, and various initiatives which include Arts & Culture Workers from a multitude of disciplines and congressional districts. In this critical period where the new administration will seek to enact its agenda, Arts & Culture must be a top priority for economic revival and national reconciliation.

Be An #ArtsHero invites America's arts workers to learn about their socioeconomic value and use their skills to push the new administration to pass sweeping relief and recovery legislation. Arts & Culture workers from across the country will call on the new administration to engage with the colossal socio-economic value of the Arts & Culture sector, which brings a massive $877 billion in value added to the U.S. economy while providing 5.1 million American jobs. Currently, 2.7 million arts workers are unemployed due to the economic devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Arts & Culture sector adds more to the GDP than Transportation, Agriculture, Construction, and Tourism. With an economic growth rate nearly double that of the rest of the economy, it’s clear that relief and recovery for the Arts & Culture sector must be made an economic and legislative priority.

“I am one of the 2.7 million Arts and Culture workers who have been unemployed for most of the last year. I ask you as my leaders to create a Department and Secretary of Arts & Culture. We are an $877 billion dollar industry.” - Robert O’Hara

The Dramatists Guild of America President Doug Wright said, “In our country, the arts exist not only as the soul, the very conscience of the nation, but as a crucial economic engine as well. Currently, they face an unprecedented crisis due to the global pandemic. The Dramatists Guild of America is only too happy to work with Be An #ArtsHero to offer the visionary words of some of our greatest authors, whose letters prescribe a future that restores the arts to the proper place in our culture and ensures their vitality for generation.”

ABOUT BE AN #ARTSHERO

Be An #ArtsHero is a national, non-partisan grassroots movement that emphasizes Arts & Culture’s contribution to the economy. They are a united, intersectional, sector-wide coalition that exists to defend and position the Arts & Culture sector of the U.S. as a legislative priority for support and investment commensurate with our socio-economic value. BAAH’s Open Letter to the US Senate has been signed by more than 16,000 supporters, including rank and file, blue collar arts workers; leaders of major arts organizations; and countless high-profile celebrities. BAAH is endorsed by American Theater Wing, Broadway Cares/EquityFightsAIDS, The Dramatists Guild of America, Costume Industry Coalition, Young Audiences Coalition, Ovation TV, FreelancersUnion, ExtendPUA, Touring Professionals Alliance, the SIMS Foundation, and more.

THE DRAMATISTS GUILD OF AMERICA

The Dramatists Guild of America is the national, professional membership trade association of theatre writers including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. The Guild was established for the purpose of aiding dramatists in protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of their work.

The Guild believes that a vibrant, vital, and provocative theatre is an essential element of the ongoing cultural debate which informs the citizens of a free society; and that if such a theatre is to survive, the unique, idiosyncratic voices of the men, women, trans and non-binary artists who write for it must be cultivated and protected.

The Dramatists Guild acts as an aggressive public advocate for dramatists’ interests and assists dramatists in developing both their artistic and business skills through our publications, which are distributed nationally, and educational programs, which we sponsor around the country.

Read the Letters


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