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AGMA Statement on CARES Act

Published March 28, 2020   |  By Musical Artists  |  Post in All Areas

NEW YORK CITY - 3/27/2020 - AGMA is pleased to report that the House passed the CARES Act by voice vote and the President signed the bill into law. AGMA played an important part in the advocacy for this bill, working with the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) and our sister unions to demand COVID-19 relief benefits for our members.

This is a win for all of us. This legislation expands economic relief to artists. This is due to the calls, letter writing, emails, and social media outreach to Congress by AGMA members and the members of our affiliated unions.

AGMA applauds the quick action of Congress and the President to protect artists in Opera, Dance, and Choral communities who have been severely impacted by COVID-19 related cancellations of performances across the country.

We know that artists aren’t paid if they are not performing. These measures will help our members get through this difficult period, particularly our members who are not normally eligible for unemployment.

AGMA will continue to take action to assist our membership through this crisis. In addition to advocating for the direct assistance provided here, we are now negotiating constantly with our signatory companies to continue payments, and health and other benefits, as long as possible. The AGMA Relief Fund has temporarily doubled the cap on direct emergency financial assistance and we have started the process of permitting loans from individual AGMA retirement accounts. As this continues to progress, we will search for any other avenues for relief. As a union, we will stand together throughout this crisis and beyond.  

DPE released a statement earlier on the CARES Act (prior to it being signed into law) and what brought us to this moment. You can find it, in full, below. Going forward, our work is not over. As the press release will note, together with our sister unions, we will continue our efforts to ensure that subsequent COVID-19 relief legislation includes:

  • Further federal arts funding to assist arts nonprofits and other employers in financing projects and performances
  • Pension relief and access to affordable healthcare
  • Economic support for the entertainment industry that puts people back to work

DPE PRESS RELEASE:
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2020 - The Department for Professionals Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) and affiliated arts, entertainment, and media unions applaud the expanded access to economic support for loss of work related to COVID-19 in the latest coronavirus aid bill, which is on its way to becoming law. 

While most creative professionals were not eligible for the relief in earlier pieces of COVID-19 legislation, together with their unions they won access to economic relief through hundreds of thousands of emails, calls, social media posts, and other outreach to members of Congress. DPE and its affiliated arts, entertainment, and media unions applaud the bipartisan support for this vital legislation that is keeping the country moving forward during this difficult time.

“We are thankful that this coronavirus aid bill ensures COVID-19 related economic relief applies to professionals in the arts, entertainment, and media industries,” said DPE President Jennifer Dorning. “By coming together and mobilizing their members, DPE affiliated arts and entertainment unions made sure lawmakers took into account the unique working situations of creative professionals and expanded access to economic support.” 

Specifically, DPE and its affiliated unions in the arts, entertainment, and media industries commend the bill for protecting creative professionals by increasing and extending unemployment benefits, sending one time direct payments and additional financial support to states, and establishing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for those who otherwise would not qualify.“Many creative professionals who work gig to gig had begun or expected to begin their next job when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. These individuals will now be eligible to receive economic support to help make up for the income lost due to cancelled or postponed work” said Dorning. “The important takeaway is that money will soon be in the hands of creative professionals and their families.”

DPE and its affiliated arts, entertainment, and media unions will continue to work together to make sure members can access this economic support.
The bill also provides crucial emergency funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Going forward, DPE and its affiliated unions of professionals in the arts, entertainment, and media industries remain focused on ensuring that subsequent COVID-19 relief legislation includes:

  • Further federal arts funding to assist arts nonprofits and other employers in financing projects and performances
  • Pension relief and access to affordable healthcare
  • Economic support for the entertainment industry that puts people back to work

“We look forward to the day when creative professionals and all working people can safely return to work,” said Dorning. “We know that the way forward is achieved by working together.”
The unions engaged in advocacy include:

  • Actors’ Equity Association
  • American Federation of Musicians
  • American Guild of Musical Artists
  • American Guild of Variety Artists
  • Directors Guild of America
  • Guild of Italian American Actors
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Office and Professional Employees International Union
  • Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
  • Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
  • Writers Guild of America, East