Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Committee on Small Business logo

On January 19, 2022, the U.S. House Small Business Committee held the first ever hearing dedicated to the creative economy. Led by Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the committee, operating virtually, heard testimony from four witnesses representing different segments of the creative workforce. As many as 450 people watched the video stream in real-time and over 4,200 people have viewed the hearing since it occurred, making it one of the top hearings this committee has produced in recent years. Congressional attendance for this year was strong as well, with 16 committee members attending (out of 27) and equally represented with eight from each party.

The hearing explored both the impact of COVID-19 on the creative economy, and the various points of connection to federal assistance to small businesses for recovery and long-term support for growth. Citing research compiled by Americans for the Arts, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), SMU DataArts, and others, the comprehensive committee memo to its members noted, “… the creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the American economy providing new opportunities for developing cities and entrepreneurs. Not only do these organizations and enterprises create jobs within their own industry, but they also stimulate economic activities in other sectors, attracting tourism, and creating a climate conducive to business development.”

At the invitation of the committee, Americans for the Arts provided testimony, as did NASAA, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP), CERF+, and other national arts service organizations, and continues to work with the committee to advance the small business-related legislation relating to the seven creative economy bills currently under consideration by Congress.

The Americans for the Arts statement to the committee provided broad perspectives on the value of the creative economy and shared research on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. The statement also included a U.S. Conference of Mayors Resolution in support of the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (HR 5019, S.2858) and a letter from 113 Chambers of Commerce from 46 states supporting congressional action to address recovery of the creative economy.

Following the hearing, Chairwoman Velázquez and committee member Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) submitted a letter to Small Business Administration head Isabel Guzman noting the hearing and seeking a meeting to discuss further aid for arts and cultural businesses by extending the timeframe for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program and releasing $2 billion in undistributed funds from that program to combat the continued financial impacts of COVID-19. 

Americans for the Arts encourages all arts advocates to take action today to support the creative economy! Here are some ways you can advocate for the arts right now: