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Committee Examines Pandemic Impact and Policies to Drive Recovery During Hearing on Creative Economy

Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing surveying the current state of the creative economy and its overall impact on the American economy. The hearing gathered artists and creative workers to testify on the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their industry and ways that Congress can better support them.  
“The wounds the pandemic inflicted on the arts economy are deep and painful. If we want the industry to return to pre-covid trends and continue to be an economic engine for local communities, these businesses need more support and investment,” said Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez in remarks prepared for the hearing. “Investing in the creative economy will help this crucial sector recover while also fueling overall economic growth.”
The arts sector is a significant component of the American economy, employing 5.2 million workers and contributing 4.1% to pre-pandemic GDP. Unfortunately, the industry experienced some of the harshest effects from COVID. During the pandemic’s peak, 63% of creative workers experienced unemployment, and 95% lost creative income. Ninety-nine percent of entertainment productions canceled events throughout the pandemic, resulting in a loss of $557 million in ticketed admissions. To support these businesses, Congress enacted federal relief efforts like the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which dispersed $13 billion in emergency aid to live venues. 
During the hearing, members examined the effect of industry losses on the economy and the challenges the industry faces from the spread of the Omicron variant. Witnesses also spoke about their experience weathering the pandemic and how Congress can better support these workers and businesses as they recover. 
“We can’t let the human infrastructure of our creative economy vanish into other industries or worse. The loss to our families, our culture, our communities, future generations, and the economy would be incalculable,” said Carson Elrod, Carson Elrod Co-Founder & Co-Leader at Be An #ArtsHero and Director of Government Affairs at Arts Workers United in Brooklyn, NY. “Arts workers should be the backbone of our post-COVID recovery. The creative economy is a jobs multiplier with a normal growth rate of 4.45%, nearly double that of the rest of the economy”
“The reality is that without the sacrifices of the artists, and without the infusion of state and federal dollars, along with the generosity of our donors and audience members we would not be in existence, and I would not be testifying before you today,” said Nataki Garrett, Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR. “I would like to extend my appreciation for the assistance this committee provided to the performing arts industry through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program and other forms of COVID relief that have helped us weather the pandemic.”

“The arts and culture sector is responsible for 5.2 million jobs and 4.3 percent of GDP. The live arts have a huge halo effect on small business – every time someone goes to see a live event, they spendon restaurants for dinner, parking garages and taxis for travel, hotels to stay overnight, and childcare,” said Sandra Karas, Secretary-Treasurer at the Actors’ Equity Association in New York, NY. “Nationally, that amounts to more than $100 billion in additional spending, much of it spent at small businesses.”


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