Copy and send this letter to the Mayor of Houston or your City Council Member:
Dear MAYOR/[YOUR CITY COUNCILPERSON],
I am writing in support of allocating a portion of the $600 million stimulus bill for Houston’s artists and cultural organizations, who are facing an unprecedented financial crisis during the pandemic.
Arts organizations have not been able to operate at full capacity for over a year, which is putting local artists and cultural workers in a catastrophic situation. A Brookings study estimated that from April to July of 2020, Houston’s creative workers were losing $1.3 billion in average monthly earnings and 42,587 jobs. Further exacerbating the situation is the city’s approach to publicly funding the arts. As you know, public funding for the arts in Houston largely comes from a percentage of Hotel Occupancy Taxes (HOT), which was dramatically impacted by the pandemic. The 2020 grants to artists and arts organizations were awarded based on HOT projections for the coming year, and not on existing income. Contracts for 2020 grants were signed prior to the pandemic using projections that were eventually halved. Many artists found themselves thousands of dollars in debt.
The city knows that artists are struggling and allocated $5 million dollars in CARES aid, but that is not nearly enough to keep our creative economy afloat. In the allocation of the first round of $600 million in aid, be sure to consider the arts when distributing this aid; otherwise, many of our favorite artists and arts organizations [insert your favorite artist or arts org] may not survive the pandemic.