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Struggling Arts Venues Will Get a Much-Needed $15 Billion Boost Through Congress’s Emergency Aid Package | artnet News

No one yet knows what the distribution will look like or how much support individual organizations will actually get. Still, a broad swath of art groups and organizations are breathing a small sigh of relief that they are not forgotten about in the $900 billion emergency spending bill just passed by Congress and now with the president.

“Congratulations museum advocates for making your voices heard in 2020!,” reads a statement from the Alliance of American Museums (AAM).

The pandemic relief agreement, the advocacy group explained, “is expected to include more than $284 billion for first and second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans targeting small non-profits, including museums, with significant economic loss.” In what AAM deemed “a major win for museums,” the small business provisions are also expected to include $15 billion in dedicated funding for grants targeting shuttered venue operators, which include museums as well as Broadway theaters and music clubs.

Further, AAM said it expects that enhanced charitable giving incentives will be extended and that Refundable Employee Retention Tax Credits (RETC) will be extended and expanded.

The $900 million relief package was passed as part of a larger omnibus spending bill that funds the government through September 2021. AAM noted that the 2021 budget appropriations also “include major victories for museums.”

The most talked about of these are the authorizations of a new Smithsonian Women’s History Museum and a National Museum of the American Latino, on or near the National Mall in Washington, DC.

But the $1.4 trillion budget also grants $5.25 million increases each to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as compared with 2020. The 2021 budgets for each now stand at $167.5 million.

The Office of Museum Services at the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) also received a $2 million bump in the 2021 budget, giving it a total of $40.5 million.

The overall bill is over 5,000 pages long, and is described by the AP as “by far the longest bill ever.” AAM said it will continue to analyze “the enormous legislative package for additional items relevant to museums and will have more to report in the weeks to come.”

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