A report released last week by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) shows that 228 arts and cultural institutions affected by the pandemic that have received assistance through the federal paycheck protection program ( PPP) of the United States have collectively laid off 28% of their workers, reports Hyperallergic, or more than 14,400 people. In addition, these institutions, all large organizations, accounted for half of all PPP funding, which totaled $ 1.6 billion and was distributed among approximately 7,500 institutions.
The funding was approved by the US Congress in March 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic was setting in and was to be used by beneficiaries to continue paying their employees. The idea behind this concept was that workers would keep their jobs, businesses would stay afloat, and the national economy would stay as stable as possible. Art institutions in particular have suffered greatly from the rise of the virus, most of them being forced to close; The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has estimated losses to closed museums across the country at a total of $ 33 million per day.
According to the AFSCME report, however, a number of large institutions have managed to reach the end of fiscal year (FY) 2020 relatively unscathed. Examining sixty-nine of these museums, AFSCME found that 69 percent of them declared operating surpluses at the end of this period, noting: “Thanks to their massive endowments and their reliance on l Regarding wealthy donors, these large institutions already had the resources for pandemic-related closures that many of their smaller counterparts lacked. “
Among the museums cited in the report as having laid off staff despite securing PPP funding was the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which laid off 97 workers despite securing $ 3.3 million in loans. PPP and the end of fiscal 2020 of $ 2.3 million in the dark; the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which laid off 127 part-time employees from March 2020 through December of that year, and received a $ 4.8 million PPP loan and ended the fiscal year 2020 with an operating surplus of $ 23.9 million; and the Boston Science Museum. Too large in 2020 to benefit from a PPP loan, reserved for companies with 500 workers or less, the museum laid off 309 employees, nearly half of its workforce, as the pandemic increased, and was able to request a new series of funding. She received a PPP loan of $ 4.7 million in 2021.