With no definite end to a near nationwide shutdown of the arts and cultural sector, artists and arts leaders are wondering what the future will hold for their industry. In a recent op-ed in Crain’s New York Business, former long-time President of Brooklyn Academy of Music Karen Brooks Hopkins posed the question: “Does the arts and culture sector in New York City need a Marshall Plan?”
With the Economic Recovery Act of 1948, Secretary of State George Marshall sought to restore the economic infrastructure of postwar Europe. Now, Hopkins, a member of the ALL ARTS advisory board, is calling upon Mayor Bill de Blasio to appoint a task force entrusted with restoring the financial health of the city’s arts and culture sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The arts aren’t just good for the soul of a nation, they’re good for the economy as well. A recently released report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts stated that arts and culture accounted for 4.5% of the United States’ gross domestic product in 2017. The importance is even more pronounced on a local level, as arts and culture are a driver of tourism in New York City. According to the City of New York’s 2017 CreateNYC Cultural Plan, the “nonprofit sector alone generates over $8 billion in economic impact.” That same year, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment found the music industry generated over $21 billion in economic output per year.
Hopkins is not alone in believing that “the field needs a new paradigm to super-charge the cultural recovery once this crisis has passed.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced the launch of #CongressSaveCulture, advocating for the federal government to inject $4 billion into financially vulnerable nonprofit institutions. Making potential progress toward this financial goal, the proposed $2 trillion federal stimulus bill, which was approved in the Senate Wednesday, allocates $75 million to both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. (The package also includes $25 million for Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.) Abroad, the German federal government announced a $54 billion aid package for the arts and cultural sectors, and England’s arts council is releasing a $190 million support package.
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But for Hopkins, reinvigorating the vitality of the arts and culture sector will require a coordinated effort between arts leaders, government officials and funders. In her plan, Hopkins outlines a task force composed of arts administrators, board chairs, organized labor representatives, individual artists and community leaders. She advises this task force should meet online immediately in order to “devise a clear and focused response to the financial and human damage wrought by the crisis.” Hopkins explained that gathering data will then allow for the mayor-appointed group to “design a more effective financial rescue plan from federal, state and city sources”; “increase funding from donors already participating”; and “identify a much larger base of funders willing to contribute to the cultural revival.”
“We must change our familiar narrative and start thinking and talking about investment — both public and private,” Hopkins concluded. “Philanthropy alone, as essential as it is, cannot meet the ordinary demands of most arts organizations, let alone chart the course of recovery from the current extraordinary crisis.”
Top Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently launched #CongressSaveCulture, advocating for the federal government to inject $4 billion into financially vulnerable nonprofit institutions.