The Alliance of American Museums (AAM), a nonprofit museum advocacy association that represents botanic gardens, aquariums, presidential libraries, and zoos, in addition to museums dedicated to art, culture, and history, is urging Congress to pass economic relief legislation that would give at least $4 billion to nonprofit museums nationwide. The organization claims that museums in the United States are losing around $33 million due to temporary closures amid the country’s attempts to contain the novel coronavirus that has infected 14,439 Americans.
According to Forbes, AAM sent a letter to Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday. The document states that the museum industry contributes $50 billion a year to the US economy; generates $12 billion in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments; and supports more than 725,000 jobs annually and argues that the current administration needs to help stabilize the cultural sector. In addition to the recovery package, the alliance is demanding Congress adopt a temporary “universal charitable deduction” to help incentivize charitable giving.
“As we write this letter, museums of all sizes are experiencing closures, attendance free-fall, canceled events and actual layoffs,” AAM’s letter reads. “Declines in international and domestic tourism, declines in local attendance, and increases in social distancing will have a devastating impact on the nonprofit museum community, which operates on thin margins of financial sustainability, without large designated operational reserve funds or access to tax-relief benefits, and is often largely dependent on earned revenue from visitors passing through their doors. We estimate as many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance.”