Metropolitan Museum launches #CongressSaveCulture campaign

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image copyright The Met

NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today #CongressSaveCulture, a campaign to support broader efforts advocating for financial relief for non-profit arts organizations to be included in the nearly $2 trillion stimulus package currently being debated in Congress. Specifically, The Met is calling on the federal government to include at least $4 billion in government support for financially at-risk non-profit arts organizations and the implementation of a universal charitable tax deduction to incentivize giving to these institutions. The current relief package is expected to include funding for many industries impacted by COVID-19, including casinos, airlines, and more.

The Met has already announced an expected shortfall of at least $100 million, exemplifying the devastating affect the world’s health crisis is having on cultural organizations. The Met—one of the world’s largest art museums, with 7 million visitors annually—will be calling on its robust community of 2,000 staff, over 1,000 volunteers, 120,000 members, 9 million social media followers, and all of its supporters to amplify the #CongressSaveCulture campaign.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Museum, commented, “As we prioritize the health and safety of people around the globe first and foremost, we must also plan for the world we will re-enter once this crisis finally subsides. With that in mind, we must ensure that arts organizations, large and small, will be able to withstand the economic devastation so many are facing. Cultural organizations are important not just because of the value that the arts bring to our lives but because these institutions also drive tourism and create jobs. Despite the abundance and excellence of the programs and resources that our country’s arts groups deliver, and the legions of audiences they serve, many already operate on the edge, with very limited reserves. All are facing unprecedented financial damage as a result of the immediate and long-term effects of the coronavirus on the economy. The need for government relief for arts institutions and their employees cannot be underestimated.”

Max Hollein, Director of The Met, said, “This is an initiative asking for support not just for The Met, but for the overall museum environment, which is at risk. We are deeply concerned about the arts and culture community, and are urging for government support to ensure the survival of this important sector. In such unsettling times, the arts can provide badly needed comfort, hope, and a sense of connection. Arts institutions are a home for so many, and a window on to the world for us all. Through art we can see societies transformed by world events, and how individuals have grappled with the vast and the mundane through it all. These manifestations of hope and inspiration are especially powerful today as we experience this unprecedented global health crisis. Museums play an instrumental role in our time and have done so for several centuries, by preserving local and international cultures, helping us interpret the many worlds we live in, and convening diverse communities. In this moment of crisis, we all must do what we can to ensure that this essential component of our society will be preserved and protected for future generations.”

The Met is activating all parts of its community—staff, volunteers, members, and more—to support this cause by encouraging all to go to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) website and send a letter to representatives in Congress; share the hashtag #CongressSaveCulture on social media platforms; and sign The Met’s petition to support arts organizations at Change.org.

The Met and other cultural organizations have been engaging with city, state, and federal leaders as the crisis has developed, from the first challenges of protecting staff and visitors to the decision to close and, most recently, to articulating our ask for support. The Museum is mobilizing all available resources and working closely with peers at other Cultural Institution Groups (CIGs) and similar institutions as well as the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD).

Already, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the arts and culture sector. Museums across the nation collectively are projected to lose at least $33 million a day because of closures. The AAM estimates that 30 percent of museums—mostly in small and rural communities—will not be able to reopen without swift financial support from the government.

Museums provide important educational, cultural, and economic value to communities around the United States. American Alliance of Museums and Oxford Economics estimate that museums contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy and $12 billion in tax revenue each year. Beyond that, museums support more than 725,000 jobs across the country, providing local employment to Americans in every state.

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