By Rona Siddiqui
Arts & Culture generates at least $1 billion in every state. We account for 4.5% of U.S. GDP (more than Agriculture and Mining combined, and bigger than Transportation or Tourism).
Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President,
Artists are in peril and we need your help. We all know we could not get through the pandemic without our frontline workers, those in critical retail and trades, food production, transportation, and child care, but imagine getting through the pandemic without music, film, television, books, photography, art. Historically, Arts & Culture have been considered just as essential to the human experience as the air we breathe and here is why:
-Artists remind us of our humanity.
-Artists tell the stories of our past that have fallen from our collective consciousness, but live in our bones. Our gravest mistakes are forgotten within a generation unless we continue to remind ourselves of the dire consequences when our actions are motivated by lies.
-Artists are the harbingers of danger, the speakers of truth, the connectors of generations and cultures, the voices of the marginalized and forgotten. We are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us. We are here to remind you.
-Artists reach to the heart of the human experience to make people feel. When people feel, the pathways to empathy open and beliefs can change, and right now, we need a whole lot of change!
-Artists are powerful. They are often the first to be silenced under governments who lie, cheat, and attempt to bend reality to serve their own selfish ends. Remember when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan and outlawed music? Or when Hitler banned abstract art?
Beauty is essential to remind us that we’re good. Music is essential to remind us that we vibrate at the same frequencies, theatre is essential because it causes our hearts to beat together and our minds to expand. We are reminded that we share one common experience of life on earth. Each one of us has equal value.
We need artists more than ever to tell the truth, draw us out, and give us all the strength to face our demons together.
We need the government to help us do our jobs so we can help you do yours: Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for every American.
Artists are in peril. 2.7 million Arts & Culture workers are unemployed. 41% of Arts & Culture institutions report they will not survive the pandemic. Arts & Culture generates at least $1 billion in every state. We account for 4.5% of U.S. GDP (more than Agriculture and Mining combined, and bigger than Transportation or Tourism). With its undeniable impact on our lives, how do we not have a national department of Arts & Culture like so many other countries do?
I know that you understand what is at stake. I implore you to be bold and take action to lift up Arts & Culture, make sure this community is taken care of now and beyond the pandemic, and give Arts Workers their place at the table. It is essential to our emotional and spiritual well-being as well as our economic health.
With your action, you will allow artists to continue to give us hope, drive us to be better and to understand the world around us, frame difficult conversations and dream of new possibilities for a brighter future.
Thank you for your service to our country during this troubled time. Your bravery and integrity will not be forgotten. We will tell the story.