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More Government Relief

Lawmakers are still seeking to pass a follow-up to the CARES Act, as they have sought to do for months now. The meeting of the House that was originally scheduled for October 13, 2020 was subsequently rescheduled to October 16, 2020. Although the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the Senate would vote on October 19, 2020 on another coronavirus relief bill, no vote has taken place. Both the House and the Senate are still in negotiations over this vital legislation, and, in the meantime, many Americans, arts workers included, are struggling to get by.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed theatres in March 2020, its impact on the theatre industry has grown increasingly dire. Theatres across the country remain shuttered for the foreseeable future, which has led to unemployment and financial hardships for theatre practitioners. A report recently published by the Brookings Institution estimated that the arts and culture industry accounts for 5.1 million jobs across the country, and added $877 billion to the GDP last year. With no sign of normalcy returning within the next year, arts workers continue to wait and to advocate for financial help from the government. 

Broadway’s official announcement that theatres will remain closed until at least May 31, 2021 has created an even deeper level of unknown for the entire theatre community. It is clear that the theatre community will require federal assistance in order to reestablish itself. Live theatre on Broadway generated $1.8 billion in 2018-2019, and more than 100,000 jobs, with an additional estimated $16 billion economic impact on the local New York metropolitan area. The Brookings Institution's report estimated that the fine and performing arts industries will suffer losses of almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales.

As both the House and the Senate consider additional COVID-19 relief measures, the Dramatists Guild encourages its members to review some of the COVID-19 legislation that has been introduced and proposed over the last few months, as you consider reaching out to your own elected officials.


Federal COVID-19 Legislative Efforts


The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It provided forgivable SBA loans, student loan payment suspensions, a one-time $1,200 recovery rebate check, extended unemployment insurance compensation benefits, suspension of credit reporting, forbearances on federally backed mortgages, and much more.

The Paycheck Protection Program is an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Applications for PPP loans closed on August 8, 2020.


Consider Asking Your Elected Officials


  • To extend and expand the Paycheck Protection Program to self-employed applicants, eliminate the 500-employee limit, add funding for non-profit organizations, and issue clearer loan forgiveness language and instructions.

  • To fully fund the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and limit the $1,000 per employee cap, so that businesses with one or fewer employees can access funds.

  • To expand the duration of pandemic unemployment benefits, and to improve implementation instructions for independent contractors, mixed income earners, and other gig economy workers, so they can access full unemployment benefits.


Temporary Solution for Self-Insured Unemployment Cost Signed Into Law


Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act (S. 4209)


On August 3, 2020, the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act (S. 4209) was signed into law. The simultaneous filing of unemployment insurance has been particularly hard for self-insured non-profit theatres. Even though the CARES Act covered 50% reimbursement of costs, self-insured employers were left to pay 100% of the benefits costs upfront and receive 50% reimbursement later. On August 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a letter implementing new rules that require states to only bill nonprofit organizations for 50% of liability. If your employer is a non-profit theatre, the National Council of Nonprofits advises them to contact their state administrator for a new billing statement that charges only for the 50% liability.




The HEROES Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Nita M. Lowey (NY-17) and passed in the House on May 15, 2020, and has been sitting since its last committee hearing in the Senate on July 23, 2020. This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., Coronavirus 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. Among other things, the bill:

  • Provides FY2020 emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies;

  • Provides payments and other assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;

  • Provides additional direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual;

  • Expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers;

  • Modifies and expands the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations;

  • Establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;

  • Expands several tax credits and deductions;

  • Provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;

  • Eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;

  • Extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures; and

  • Requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.


The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding:


  • Medicare and Medicaid

  • Health Insurance

  • Broadband Service

  • Medical Product Supplies

  • Immigration

  • Student Loans and Financial Aid

  • the Federal Workforce

  • Prisons

  • Veterans Benefits

  • Consumer Protection Requirements

  • the U.S. Postal Service

  • Federal Elections

  • Aviation and Railroad Workers, and

  • Pension and Retirement Plans.


Save Our Stages Act


The Save Our Stages Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx) on July 22, 2020, and referred to the Committee on Small Business. This bill authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues. 

Specifically, the SBA may make (1) an initial grant of up to $12 million dollars to an eligible operator, promoter, producer, or talent representative; and (2) a supplemental grant that is equal to 50% of the initial grant. An initial grant must be used for costs incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, but a supplemental grant may be used for expenses incurred through June 30, 2021. Such grants should be used for specified expenses, such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.




The RESTART Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Michael F. Bennett (D-CO) on  May 21, 2020 at the Committee on Finance, and on June 3, 2020 at the Committee on Small Business. On July 23, 2020, Senator Bennett announced that he had obtained 33 co-sponsors. 

This bill extends the Paycheck Protection Program, established to support small businesses in response to COVID-19, for certain businesses, and it establishes a loan program, whereby the Small Business Administration (SBA) shall guarantee loan amounts to certain businesses affected by COVID-19. 

Specifically, the bill provides a paycheck protection loan recipient with 16 weeks in which to use such funds, if the recipient has (1) fewer than 500 full-time employees, and (2) suffered a decline in revenues of at least 25%. The bill also establishes a loan program, whereby the SBA shall guarantee 100% of program loan amounts made to certain small businesses that do not have more than 5,000 full-time employees. The terms for such loans shall include (1) a maximum duration of no more than seven years, (2) an amount that is no greater than 45% of 2019 gross receipts, up to $12 million, and (3) no payment on principal for the first two years of the loan.


Proposed Legislation




Have you heard of the DAWN Act? You should! DAWN stands for "Defend Arts Workers Now." It's a bill that will be presented to the House and Senate to fight for the support of arts workers during the economic turmoil brought on by the pandemic.

Last year, the arts industry added $877 billion to the United States GDP. Our field adds more to the GDP than transportation, agriculture, construction, and tourism. It's an industry of 5.1 million jobs across the US, and it's in trouble.According to a Brookings Institution report, by July 31, 2020, an estimated 2.7 million jobs, and more than $150 billion in sales of goods and services for creative industries, were lost? But the DAWN Act could help artists move forward.

#DGuknow that the DAWN Act would provide the NEA, NEH, IMLS, CPB, and the SBA with $43.85 billion with which to make grants to the operators, employees, and artists of live venues, recording venues, cultural spaces, and related businesses to address the effects of the pandemic? The DAWN Act would be a lifeline for our industry, but we need your help to make it happen. Please contact your senators and representatives, and encourage them to support DAWN. Learn More at



Read the DG Digest for the week of October 20


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