Following months of advocacy by orchestras and the League of American Orchestras, working with advocates across the arts and nonprofit sectors, on December 22 new and extended forms of federal COVID-19 relief were approved by Congress in a funding and coronavirus assistance package that includes support specifically for the live performing arts and its workforce. The full legislation amounts to nearly 5,600 pages, but the League has published a detailed overview on key provisions at https://americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government/be-heard/latest-advocacy-alert.html. Some highlights:
- Save Our Stages: Orchestras and talent representatives are eligible for the Small Business Administration’s new $15 billion grant program dedicated to providing support for “shuttered venue operators.” Orchestras do not need to own their performance space to apply.
- Paycheck Protection Program: More than $280 billion in new PPP relief is available, including an opportunity to apply for forgivable loans for those not accessing Save Our Stages grants. Eligible expenses are expanded, and loan forgiveness terms are improved.
- Employee Retention Tax Credits will be extended and significantly expanded, and are compatible with PPP and SOS relief.
- Charitable Giving Incentives: The universal charitable deduction for non-itemizers that was created under the CARES Act has been extended throughout the 2021 tax year and raised to $600 for joint filers. More generous deductions for those who itemize their returns and for corporate giving are also extended.
- Relief for Nonprofits Self-Insuring Unemployment Benefits: Orchestras that self-insure unemployment benefits will continue to have liability reduced by 50% through March 14, 2021.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be extended, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits that expired in 2020 are reinstated at $300 per week, through March 14, 2021. An extra $100 per week will be available for certain workers who have a mix of W-2 and 1099 income.
- The National Endowment for the Arts received an appropriation of $167.5 million for fiscal year 2021, with special permission for grants to be used for operating expenses.
- Education Funding: The bill provides an $82 billion Education Stabilization Fund, and funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program has been increased to $30.5 million.
Visit the League at https://americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government/be-heard/latest-advocacy-alert.html for more information, how to access the relief, and regular updates.