​Reps. Maloney and Nadler Lead NYC Delegation Request for $4B in Federal Assistance for Nonprofit Museums

Mar 21, 2020
Press Release

NEW YORK, NY — Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), today were joined by members of the New York City Delegation in requesting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy include $4 billion in federal assistance for the nonprofit museum industry in the next coronavirus recovery package. New York City is home to more than 100 nonprofit museums. 

As the Members state in their letter, “Museums in New York State support 61,000 jobs and generate $5.4 billion annually in revenue.[1]  New York City is home to some of the most prestigious, innovative, and diverse museums in the world, including major art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, and the Whitney; cultural and historical museums like the Museum of Chinese in America and the City Museum of New York; and international landmarks like the American Museum of Natural History. 

“No matter their size, for nearly every nonprofit museum, revenue comes through fundraising, charitable donations, and earned revenue, which includes revenue from museum exhibitions, educational programs, retail sales, and venue rentals.[2] Without patronage, the earned revenue stream has evaporated virtually overnight[…]Due to the nature of the nonprofit industry, many of these museums do not have the savings necessary to survive such a hit.”

Joining Representatives Maloney and Nadler in this request are Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez, Yvette D. Clarke, Grace Meng, Gregory W. Meeks, Adriano Espaillat, Eliot L. Engel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Hakeem S. Jeffries. 

 

Full text of the letter can be found below and a PDF can be found here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

As members of the New York City Congressional Delegation, we ask that you provide at least $4 billion in federal assistance to the nonprofit museum industry in the recovery package for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This financial support will ease the economic hardship facing nonprofit museums across the country, including New York City’s over 100 nonprofit museums, and give them the stability they need to be able to recover and reopen once this crisis passes.

As you know, Americans across the nation are undertaking unprecedented measures in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. On March 15, 2020, the CDC urged that any gathering of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next 8 weeks. The following day the president recommended that gatherings of 10 or more people be avoided. In response to these concerns, museums and cultural institutions around New York announced on March 12 they would voluntary close their doors in order to slow the spread of the virus.[3] Nonprofit museums across the country followed suit and closed indefinitely, even though roughly 65 percent of their income comes directly from patrons.[4]

These decisions are saving American lives and are unequivocally the right choices. However, the economic ramifications of these decisions are devastating to the nonprofit museum community, and to their local economies. Museums in New York State support 61,000 jobs and generate $5.4 billion annually in revenue.[5]  New York City is home to some of the most prestigious, innovative, and diverse museums in the world, including major art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, and the Whitney; cultural and historical museums like the Museum of Chinese in America and the City Museum of New York; and international landmarks like the American Museum of Natural History. 

No matter their size, for nearly every nonprofit museum, revenue comes through fundraising, charitable donations, and earned revenue, which includes revenue from museum exhibitions, educational programs, retail sales, and venue rentals.[6] Without patronage, the earned revenue stream has evaporated virtually overnight. Museums cannot hold fundraising events for fear of transmitting the virus, and donors are understandably more hesitant to make charitable contributions given the economic uncertainty they face. The Metropolitan Museum of Art projects that it will lose close to $100 million in the coming months because of the shutdowns, while the American Museum of Natural History estimates it will lose $60 million by June.[7]

Due to the nature of the nonprofit industry, many of these museums do not have the savings necessary to survive such a hit. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that as many as 30 percent of museums will not be able to re-open after this crisis has passed without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance. Layoffs have already begun to sweep the more than seven hundred thousand Americans employed by museums nationwide, including the 61,000 museum employees in New York City and State. Without help, our nation’s nonprofit museums cannot survive, and a vital part of New York and American culture will be lost forever.

By providing $4 billion in emergency funding for nonprofit museums we can equip these museums to outlast this pandemic and continue their invaluable roles in preserving American art, history, and culture.

We thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your work on behalf of the nation during this crisis.

cc:

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee

The Honorable Kay Granger, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee